Feeding of geese on farmland in east-central Scotland.
Greylag and pink-footed geese fed together around Loch Leven, Kinross, at a rate equivalent to 0.54 and 0.39 geese/ha day during 2 successive winters. Neither species selected particular field types in relation to their availability in the area, and preferences changed through the season as the food content of fields changed. Grass fields were visited throughout, but mainly in spring; stubble fields were visited mainly in autumn, potatoes mainly from late autumn to early spring, and growing cereals mainly in late spring. About 24 and 34% of the greylag's feeding in the different years was on root crops, 11 and 18% of the pinkfoot's. Both species ate potatoes but the greylag ate turnips and carrots as well. The main conflicts with agriculture occurred in one winter when greylag ate many turnips and in spring of both years when both species ate young grass. The 2 species did one quarter of their feeding in only 3% of the study area and three quarters in 21%; safety was more important than food supplies in where they fed and no correlation was found between the amounts of grain or potatoes on particular fields and the amount the geese fed in them. Over the area as a whole damage was negligible but certain farmers suffered substantial loss. The problem is not to repel geese from farmland as a whole but to keep them off vulnerable crops in particular places for short periods. This can best be achieved by growing such crops in the places where the geese do not like to feed, and by use of scaring devices. Shooting is of value only as a scaring device.