Geese! This is part of a flock of some 2000 geese, mostly Barnacles, but also quite a few Greater White-fronts, Tundra Bean and Canada Geese, even a family consisting of a male Grey-lag and his female Canada and their 6 hybrid goslings. What makes this special is that the image is taken from my garden, across the fields behind the house on Oct 17th, and in the 31 years I’ve lived here this is the first day ever that geese will go down in these rather small fields. The numbers as well as the behavior of geese has actually changed dramatically in my lifetime. When I was a kid arctic geese were of course far less numerous than today, but they would never go down to feed anywhere in Finland, and birds like Greater White-fronts were considered a rarity –I birded for well over ten years before I saw my first ones in 1975! However, some 15-20 years ago things started to change quite suddenly and increasing numbers of Barnacles, White-fronts and Tundra Bean began to roost in the fields in autumn, first starting in eastern Finland. One possibly reason for this change in the behavior could be that geese are heavily hunted on the Russian side of the border, where they used to roost before, while e.g. Barnacles and White-fronts are protected with us, but this probably does not explain the whole phenomenon. Although flocks of roosting arctic geese are nowadays a regular sight in September-October throughout much of southern Finland, the highest numbers by far are still recorded in the southeast -this September a mega flock of 100 000+ birds was encountered not far from the town of Joensuu in the easternmost corner of the country and similar masses have been recorded elsewhere in previous years.

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