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Record number of Pink-footed Goose during autumn 2020 at Lista!

Pink-footed Goose
Pink-footed Goose
It is observed every year at Lista Lighthouse in relatively low numbers (average 1990-2019 is 212 individuals per year).

Graphic up to 27th of October
Graphic up to 27th of October
The observations are 1721% above average, which is more than 17 times the normal numbers (1990-2019). The new average including the numbers from 2020 is 250 individuals (see graphic).

This autumn we have noticed many more birds of this species, counting several flocks every day, starting with the first flock on September 17. Up to 27th of October it has been counted 2933 Pink-footed Goose, which is 1721% above average (1990-2019).

Two bio-geographical populations of Pink-footed Goose occur: the Iceland/East Greenland population and the Svalbard population.

The Pink-footed Goose which migrates from Denmark to Svalbard through mainland Norway via Trondheim area, is a species barely seen in spring at Lista Fyr (average 1990-2019 is 13 individuals). In autumn, this species is somewhat more abundant in this location, although average numbers per autumn is only 183 birds (1990-2019).

The peak period for Pink-footed Goose at Lista Fyr is between mid-September and mid-October. This autumn, we have noticed many more birds of this species, counting several flocks every day, starting with the first flock on September 17. Up to 27th of October it has been counted 2933 Pink-footed Goose this autumn, which is 1721% above average (1990-2019). We believe that thousands of Pink-footed Geese have been pushed towards the western coast of Norway this autumn by the eastern winds. At Lista, winds have been blowing from east and southeast from Sep 23 to Oct 6, some days very strongly with gusts up to 23 m/s. Furthermore, the first flocks over 100 birds started to appear on September 25, just 2 days after the eastern winds started.

The population breeding in Svalbard has increased a lot over the past decades. It was estimated to be 15,000 individuals in the mid1960s, 60,000 in 2010, 81,500 in 2013 and 60,000 in 2020 (ideal population size to prevent collapse or irrupt). The Pink-footed Goose winters in Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium. The increasing trend has been due to a combination of factors such as: a decrease in hunting pressure on the staging and wintering grounds, reduced human persecution on the breeding grounds (e.g. spring hunting, egg collecting, culling of moulting geese), more refuge areas, improved winter feeding conditions and climate change (Kéry et al. 2006; Bauer et al. 2008). The increase of the Svalbard pink‐footed goose population may partly be attributable to a progressive change of winter weather that provides more secure winter feeding conditions (Kéry et al. 2006).

However, raising numbers of the population has brought into conflict with agricultural interests and caused degradation of vulnerable tundra vegetation in Svalbard as a result of the increasing grazing (Madsen, J. & Williams, J.H. 2012). The Svalbard population is hunted in Svalbard, mainland Norway and Denmark during the autumn.

The first management Plan under the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) was adopted for the species in 2012 and its goals and objectives should be reviewed and updated every 10 years (first revision in 2022).

If the migrating Pink-footed Goose is significantly growing at Lista or if this year increase has just been an effect of the eastern winds, time will tell. The autumn numbers of this species over the last 15 years at Lista Bird Observatory has been higher though, than the previous 15 years. This is a good example of the importance of long-term monitoring of bird populations which let us document and understand the changes and fluctuations of the species for a period of several decades.



Ringing numbers
Sorry, but we are outside of the spring and autum seasons.
Detailed log

Reportasje fra Lista FS
i Aftenposten

Seasonal deviation
Eurasian Jay5-99%
Little Stint7-97%
European Reed Warbler4-95%
Northern Lapwing123-94%
Tengmalm´s Owl3-93%
Pink-footed Goose3053+1572%
Common Crane72+438%
White-tailed Eagle41+328%
Black Redstart36+318%
Mute Swan293+316%
View deviation of seasons
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Siste 5 på siden
  Report from autumn 2020
  Record number of Pink-footed Goose during autumn 2020 at Lista!
  Greylag goose on Lista and Jomfruland - a summary of 30 years of counting data
  Great Bird Festival!
  Report from spring 2020

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post@listafuglestasjon.no Tlf: 949 86 793