Canada geese are a very recognisable brown goose with their black head and neck and a white throat patch. They are an introduced species and as such are often considered as a pest. They were first brought over from North America in the late 17th century to grace the large lakes of grand houses but bred well and post war have escaped to populate most of Britain except the far north. There are now about 62,000 breeding pairs according to the RSPB. They are native to temperate and arctic regions of North America.
Locally they breed on lakes, ponds and park lakes and large numbers breed on the revetment banks of the Manchester Ship Canal especially between Frodsham and Runcorn where over 120 nests were counted in 2014. Generally the female is loyal to both her partner and her breeding site and start to breed at about 3 years old. She usually lays a clutch of 5-7 eggs from April onwards. The 30 day incubation is solely by the female with the male nearby, keeping the site safe from predators. Initially both parents care for the young but when they get larger they join large crèches of young geese tended by a few adults.
Post breeding the geese head for the Mersey Estuary to moult: being unable to fly for several weeks they need a safe area and find the area of salt marshes between the Manchester Ship Canal and the river meet their needs. From autumn into winter they tend to spread widely and are very mobile: travelling several kilometres to find food. They eat vegetation: mainly roots, grass, leaves and seeds. At the moment the huge flocks are gleaning the grain from the stubble-fields locally and using the estuary and local pools to bathe and drink.
It has generally been believed that the local flock is comprised of mainly Cheshire / Lancashire breeding birds though it is starting to appear, through colour-ringing schemes, that there is lot we do not know about their movements. Recently six geese were seen at Carr Lane Pools, Hale with red colour-rings but unfortunately the white lettering could not be deciphered because of the distance involved, so several photographs were taken.
Click on photos to enlarge.
We managed to read one ring AAAP. After forwarding the ring number to the scheme involved we have discovered that the bird was ringed on 2nd July 2013 at Bowness-on- Windermere in Cumbria during its annual moult and was seen again on 28th June 2014 at the same site. It was discovered in Hale on 14th September 2014, 115 kilometres from the original site.
C.A. & R.P. Cockbain