Country Corner

Pink footed geese photographed by Margaret Nisbet
Pink footed geese photographed by Margaret Nisbet

Again I have to thank Country Corner reader Margaret Nisbet for this week’s wonderful photograph of Pink Footed Geese.

When you see wild geese flying over in ‘V’ formation on these short dark winter days, they are most probably Pink Foots.

Pinks are part and parcel of the winter fieldscape, both the sight and the sound of them. In fact, they are so much a part of the Scottish winter scene, it is easy to consider them as natives.

However, they are Viking travellers seeking refuge from far northern storms, blizzards and even shorter days.

Their tundra nesting grounds are just about hospitable enough in summer, but totally impossible in winter.

Imagine if you can, the Lothian landscape before agriculture drained and ploughed the bogs, moors and wild grasslands. Probably not too different from the Icelandic tundras. No wonder these wild spirits felt so at home here.

As times have changed they have had to adapt. Mind you, not all changes have been for the worse. The change from spring sown grains to autumn sown grains has provided them with short lush green cereal crops to graze all winter.

Harvested potato fields also provide soft ‘broke tatties’ for them.

In deep frost they have even been known to incubate these tatties to defrost them, just as they would incubate their own eggs.

Like most countrymen, wild pinkfoots have almost spiritual significance to me.

Their annual autumn arrival and spring departure are landmarks in my natural calendar.

George Hogg, Hogg Estate Services