Pink-footed Geese

UK status:
C.280,000,80% of world population winter in the UK, with up to 30% in Norfolk

Status at Abbey Farm:
Frequently present from October to January. Maximum of 20,000

Notes from Abbey Farm:

  • Their main food here is root fragments left in the fields after sugar beet have been harvested
  • Damage to beet before harvesting is rare. It is most likely if geese are feeding in a field that has only partly been harvested
  • Geese are easily frightened. If you want to attract them onto your farm then minimise disturbance in their first few days on the site
  • If you are a birdwatcher want to see geese on farmland, please read this
  • Geese will graze winter barley, oilseed rape and grassland where they can cause damage. Regular frightening or the use of flags can help reduce problems
  • Over 100 ringed geese have been recorded here (more details…)

For more information, read ‘The farmer and the Pink-feet can be friends‘ article.

Pink Footed Geese

Wildlife birds - pink footed geese


UK status:
Resident breeder, 85% population decline in last 1960-2010

Status at Abbey Farm:
Present throughout the year

Notes from Abbey Farm:

  • In our monitoring of wintering birds on arable land, the majority of Linnets were on unsprayed cereal stubble. As they seem to make little use of wild bird cover these stubbles are their most important wintering habitat at Abbey Farm
  • In early autumn we can get large flocks (up to 450) on winter oilseed rape stubble
  • There are communal roosts in bushy hedges during the winter, including in Japanese Privet – the non-native privet which keeps its leaves over-winter
  • census work in the 1990’s seemed to show nesting Linnets particularly like double hedges or hedge intersections. They also seem to like overgrown hedges
  • Linnets use some supplementary bird feeding in the spring
  • Linnets use some sites rich in arable weeds such as cultivated ground for ground-nesting birds and organic green manures

Wildlife birds- linnet

Grey Partridge

UK status:
95% decline from 1960 to 2000

Status at Abbey Farm:
Present throughout the year

Notes from Abbey Farm:

  • There has been a considerable increase in Grey Partridge numbers here over the last ten years
  • Cool, wet summers (especially in June) can be very damaging to breeding success
  • Control of corvids (such as Carrion Crow and Magpie) and ground-predators (like Fox), both of which are carried out at Abbey Farm, is thought to be important in improving breeding success
  • Conservation headlands are specifically aimed at improving the survival of partridge chicks in their first few days when they eat insects, especially sawfly larvae
  • A range of field margin types are likely to benefit Grey partridges, including mixed margins, species-rich margins and cultivated undrilled margins

Grey Partidges seem to use a wide range of arable habitats over winter (more details…). They are often found good numbers on unsprayed over-winter cereal stubble.

Grey partridge


UK status:

Status at Abbey Farm:
20-30 pairs breed, present during the rest of the year in low numbers

Notes from Abbey Farm:

  • Nesting Lapwing here are now concentrated in three areas:
    • A 1.3ha area cultivated for ground-nesting birds annually in late winter to leave bare, rough-surfaced ground during the spring. 4-5 pairs per year, plus 2-4 pairs on surrounding fields
    • A 13ha organic field, half spring cereals and half green manure. 5-10 pairs per year
    • The field of millet that follows sugar beet in our rotation plan (see millet). 4-9 pairs per year
  • Another 4-8 nests are on sugar beet, spring cereals, peas and grasslands
  • All nests are marked and protected when under threat from farm operations
  • Control of corvids and ground predators probably helps breeding success

Several pairs walk their young chicks to the wet grasslands for rearing, and fledglings and adults flock here at the end of the breeding season.