Getting another year older

Pink footed geese in flight
Pink footed geese in flight

These are pink footed geese, the wild geese from Iceland and beyond, which spend the winter in our local fieldscape.

If I were to ask you how old you think a pink foot can get too, what would be your guess?

I have been reading bird ringing reports and was amazed to find a pinkfoot ringed in Tayside in 1959 and found freshly dead at Gladhouse Reservoir in 1998 at the age 38 years and seven months!

To put this into perspective, the record for Mute Swan, our common local swan species, is just over 28 years. Mind you a humble duck, the wigeon, which winters on our coasts, has attained well over 34 years, ringed Colchester, recovered in Russia!

More locally our stay at home coastal sea duck, the eider, has reached well over 35 years. Also familiar on local shores that big pied wader with the orange bill, the oystercatcher, has reached an incredible 40 years, one month and two days! Even the curlew has managed over 32 years.

As regards gulls, the very familiar chip stealing herring gull has lived to 32 plus, while the equally familiar black headed gull has made it to 29 plus.

Another seabird of local islands, the razorbill, can attain veteran status, the oldest recorded being a week shy of 42 years!

Closer to home the familiar garden blue tit has made it to almost 10 years. blackbird 14 years plus, and starling 17 years and seven months.

Another very familiar bird, the graceful swallow, tiny though it may be, has lived to over seven years. Bear in mind most swallows fly to Africa and back every year, sometimes even to the southern cape.

Imagine all those miles over seas, mountains and deserts in all the weather can muster.

Then multiply by seven!

By George Hogg

Hogg Estate Services, Wildlife Management