There's no better place to get up close and personal with light-bellied brent geese than Dublin. This morning I was sat watching a family crossing the road in front of my car!! The geese here spend most of the winter feeding in parks, on sports pitches and even on small patches of grass in housing estates and have learnt that people don't really represent any threat. This means that they can be approached to within only a few metres.
Juvenile light-bellied brent goose, Old Yellow Walls, Malahide
All this means that finding ringed geese and reading their rings can be pretty easy - sometimes you can even do it even without binoculars! This is one important reason why Dublin is the main study site for our current research efforts. After all my job at the moment involves resighting as many colour-ringed birds each day as I can, so that we can begin to understand how their social structure works and to what extent individual birds tend to remain in distinct social groups.
PFYY at Portmarnock Park (the metal ring on the bird's right leg shows it was
ringed in Iceland)
There is another reason, why Dublin makes a great place for my research. Birds feeding in the parks are often disturbed (over enthusiastic dogs are often the cause!) and groups often split up or join together as they move between different parks and grassy areas. This means it is possible for group membership to change many times in one day and allows me to collect data much faster than I could in many other places. All this disturbance can be very frustrating though if it happens just after you've found a flock!
Lots more about the brent geese of Dublin, and how our research in the capital is going will be added shortly!