Bean Geese are now much harder to find

**MUST CREDIT PICTURE: Michael Flowers**'Bean Goose. Picture: Michael Flowers
**MUST CREDIT PICTURE: Michael Flowers**'Bean Goose. Picture: Michael Flowers

Here we continue the recent talk given by Robert Coleman on RSPB reserves in Central Scotland to the SWT in Duns.

Much further up the Forth is Skinflats near Grangemouth, where there are extensive mudflats. The RSPB first became involved in the management of this site in 1983 and purchased a large area in 2001.

In 2007/8 diggers were brought in to re-landscape an extensive area of the shore, creating islands and pools which provide safe nesting and roosting sites for water birds.

On the open sea Red-throated Divers and Goldeneye ducks can be seen in winter. The resident Shelduck nest underground in burrows along the shore. In the winter large numbers of waders including Dunlin, Redshank and Ringed Plovers are attracted to the rich feeding to be found in the mud and Pink-footed Geese use the mudflats as a safe overnight roost.

The Bean Goose was once more frequent in the British Isles but its numbers have slumped. Between 250 and 280 geese, which is 64% of the total British population, overwinter on the Slamannan Plateau near Cumbernauld. Most nights the geese roost at Fannyside Loch and to provide secure, long term protection, the RSPB bought Fannyside in 1996. This includes the loch and surrounding farmland and moorland.

Through the day the geese prefer to feed on improved grasslands, returning to the safety of the loch overnight.

The Bean Goose resembles the Pink-footed Goose. The striking feature of the Bean Goose is its orange legs, which are pink on the Pink-footed, and the long orange and black bill, whereas on the Pink-footed there is pink on the bill.

The Bean Geese start to arrive in late September and depart for Sweden where they nest, in late February. They are to be found across northern Europe and Asia as far east as Kamtschatica.

A smaller population overwinters in Norfolk (The Broads) but they originate from a different population which does not normally mix with the Scottish birds in their breeding stations.

Fannyside provides a safe refuge for the endangered Hen Harrier and its marshes and wet farmland are a good breeding site for Curlews and Snipe.

The marshes require careful management to provide optimum conditions for the wildlife. Large machines which can cross the marshes without damaging the soil structure or getting bogged down are employed to cut parts of the dense sward of rushes and rough grasses. The cut grass and rushes are removed and used to produce brickets for fuel which makes the cutting of the rushes carbon neutral.

To be continued.