Exotic geese return to Arundel

Exotic geese return to the WWT Arundel Wetland Centre
Exotic geese return to the WWT Arundel Wetland Centre
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A gaggle of exotic geese have returned to the collection at Arundel Wetland Centre now that water levels are dropping around the reserve.

A large family of eight Australian magpie geese, a trio of Hawaiian Nene geese and a flock of six South American Orinoco geese were transported back from WWT headquarters recently in large plastic crates inside a van driven by trained WWT staff.

High water levels in January forced WWT Arundel to move 60 of its geese to the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust’s centre in Gloucestershire. Geese need lots of grass for grazing so when exhibit pens took on water the decision was made to move some birds. Over 450 wildfowl from the collection remained at the Arundel Wetland Centre during the high water in January.

WWT Arundel Wetland Centre is once again fully open for visitors. The rest of the WWT Arundel’s geese, including the flock of endangered red-breasted geese, will be brought back to the wetland centre in mid-March.

Visitor favourite Basil and his brood of Australian magpie geese were part of the group that recently returned home to WWT Arundel. Clan patriarch Basil, easily identified by the large crest on his head, and the rest of the family can be seen in the Trumpeter Pen until March, when they will return to our World Wildfowl exhibit. Basil became famous for chasing staff and visitors away from magpie geese nests during breeding season.

Mr. and Mrs. Christmas, with their consort Miss Spring, also came back to their home at Arundel Wetland Centre. WWT staff gave the pair of nene Hawaiian geese there festive nicknames because of the green and red leg tags that identify them. Miss Spring, with a white tag, follows the couple and last year laid eggs in their nest. Ten nene geese from WWT Arundel’s collection will stay at WWT Slimbridge until April. Hawaiian geese still run on Hawaiian time and January and February are their prime laying periods. The rest of WWT Arundel’s nene gaggle is heavy with eggs and some are already nesting at WWT Slimbridge and can’t be moved. As soon as the Christmas couple returned to the Reedswamp exhibit at WWT Arundel Wetland Centre they built a nest and are sitting on eggs. Mr. Christmas is being protective of the nest and is chasing visitors along the path.

A flock of South American Orinoco geese were also returned to this exhibit along with the nene geese.

WWT Arundel Wetland Centres has comfortable hides, easy buggy and wheelchair friendly pathways, a fully stocked cafe and gift shop and disabled and parent & baby facilities. WWT Arundel Wetland Centre is open from 9:30am – 4:30pm and is located on Mill Road, Arundel West Sussex BN9 8PB. Call 01903 883355 or visit wwt.org.uk/Arundel for more information.

Report and pictures contributed by the WWT Arundel Wetland Centre.