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Why are the geese on a pond in King’s Lynn turning white?

White geese at the duck pond in South Wootton. Picture: Ian Burt

White geese at the duck pond in South Wootton. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2017

For years they have been a familiar sight on the village pond or grazing on the nearby green.

White geese at the duck pond in South Wootton. Picture: Ian BurtWhite geese at the duck pond in South Wootton. Picture: Ian Burt

Now a flock of greylag geese on the outskirts of King’s Lynn have started turning white.

Experts say that the most likely explanation for the changing colour of the birds’ plumage is inter-breeding with closely-related white farm geese.

White geese at the duck pond in South Wootton. Picture: Ian BurtWhite geese at the duck pond in South Wootton. Picture: Ian Burt

Some of the 40-strong flock which live around the pond at South Wootton have gone completely white, whilst others are still in the throes of changing.

Dr Teresa Frost, from the Wetland Bird Survey, said: “It is likely that there is a growing domestic influence on this greylag goose flock.

White geese at the duck pond in South Wootton. Picture: Ian BurtWhite geese at the duck pond in South Wootton. Picture: Ian Burt

“White farmyard geese are genetically descended from greylag geese, and the two will interbreed, producing grey and white offspring.

“Their behaviour is also similar, so farmyard geese, greylag geese and hybrids of the two will flock, feed and roost together.”

White geese at the duck pond in South Wootton. Picture: Ian BurtWhite geese at the duck pond in South Wootton. Picture: Ian Burt

White geese at the duck pond in South Wootton. Picture: Ian BurtWhite geese at the duck pond in South Wootton. Picture: Ian Burt

White geese at the duck pond in South Wootton. Picture: Ian BurtWhite geese at the duck pond in South Wootton. Picture: Ian Burt

White geese at the duck pond in South Wootton. Picture: Ian BurtWhite geese at the duck pond in South Wootton. Picture: Ian Burt

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