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General > Wildfowling - Morning Goose Flight close...
Wildfowling - Morning Goose Flight close to Morecambe Bay.

This morning Sam and I had been invited to have a crack at the Pinkfeet flighting the bottom end of Morecambe Bay between Pilling and Cockerham. This was not to be “true” wildfowling as we would be shooting over decoys on the fields but it would give Sam and excellent chance to get his first Pinkfoot.


It took us just over an hour to travel from home to Pilling where we met our host Brian. Brian took us on a short drive to grass field of about 50 acres, the field was simply covered in fresh Goose droppings. Brian reckoned there had been several thousand Pinks feeding here the previous day and about 20,000 geese had been flighting to feed in this area from the roosts on Morecambe Bay. Prospects looked good!


A slight communications problem had meant we were running a bit late, we’d both been waiting to meet up in different places! I set up the deecs whilst Brian built a hide on the edge of a shallow dyke, this morning we were trying out some new flock coated decoys from Seeland. Even as I was setting up the decoys the first few geese were coming for a look and a single set his wings and headed into the pattern before I got time to get back to the hide, things looked even better.


Back in the hide I checked that Sam was ready and comfortable, it’s very difficult making a hide to suit both a 9 year old child like Sam and a 6ft 3” giant like Brian.

Wildfowler Sam waiting for geese
The young Wildfowler waiting for the geese
 The compromise was to put Sam behind the hide netting and stand Brian at the bottom of the dyke. Despite the promising start we now had a fairly lengthy wait before the geese started to lift from the roost, Brian reckoned it was about 0830 when they had come inland the previous morning. It proved to be just a little later than that when the geese moved today and the first skeins headed in to the East of us and flew several miles inland to feed. As we waited for the main flight to lift it became apparent that, despite the numbers that had been in the area over recent days, the geese were proving to be thin on the ground today. At this time of year many of these geese should have started to leave the area and head north for the Solway where they build up until April when they begin the full migration back to Iceland – perhaps they’d left overnight on the full moon?


Though goose numbers were clearly down this morning we still saw a good flight and Sam was excited with each skein he saw, even if they were hundreds of yards away heading way inland to the South East of us. Geese were also coming back into the roosts, these geese would have been feeding on the fields through the night on the full moon, many could still be sat on the fields and the extensive floodwaters further reducing the flight. A few skeins looked as if they may set to the decoys and each time this happened Sam could barely contain his excitement. I had to constantly remind him to keep still until the last minute and not show his face skywards, these geese would be very wary and soon pick up the slightest movement or a pale face. Sensibly Sam had put on his hat and pulled a neck tube right up under his eyes to cover up most of his face. As the geese came in closer we laid flat and pushed ourselves right up against the hide netting, I was in charge of calling and keeping an eye on proceedings whilst the other two kept down. The geese came in high to the deecs, for a moment they set their wings and looked like they may give Sam a chance. They then circled round the back of us and took another run into the decoys but still a good 80 yards high and their body language and formation suggested little interest therefore it was not surprising that they over flew us and joined in with another skein that was heading inland to our west.

The Wildfowlers Dog
The Wildfowlers Dog


We waited until about 0930 and the geese were showing no interest in our field, the bulk headed way inland to our East. Goose numbers were way down this morning but that still did not detract from the spectacle of the flight or our enjoyment, the pleasure in wildfowling is not the size of the bag. Happy to have seen geese we packed up the decoys and headed back to the vehicles where we met up with farm owner Barry. Barry had been decoying about half a mile away from us and had 4 Pinkfeet and the news that geese had been coming into our field before our delayed arrival – typical!


That afternoon Sam & I were shooting near home in upper Teesdale right on the top of the North Pennines. We were rewarded with the spectacle of thousands of Pinkfeet migrating from the East coast to the West coast. Skein after skein came over our heads heading to the North West, probably the Solway. In 20 years living in upper Teesdale this is the first time I’ve seen this full blown migration. News that evening on the Wildfowling Forum was of nearly 20,000 geese leaving the Wash and heading North, these were probably the ones I’d seen at home. Late in the evening I chatted to a friend at the North end of Morecambe Bay and he confirmed thousands of geese migrating North over his office that morning, these would probably be the birds that had just left the location we had been shooting at the South of Morecambe Bay. All good news for us boys shooting the South Solway, I hope!

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