Monday, 2 April 2012

Geese are stocking up for the northward migration; goose biologists gearing up to follow them

It's great to see the level of activity on-going researching our goose populations. As spring advances and the geese are preparing for their northward migration and breeding investment it becomes an especially interesting period for study too - behaviour and decisions made at an individual level may have a profound effect on the success of the migration and on the outcomes of breeding attempts. Geese are piling on their abdominal fat; goose biologists are packing their duffle bags!

Detailed recording of numbers, flock age composition, abdominal profiles (to assess body condition) as well as more detailed investigations such as GPS tracking migration are all underway. Local Brent in Co. Down seem to be fairly 'slim' for now and the birds are clearly intent on stocking up on green algae on the intertidal area prior to leaving for Iceland. An increasing frequency of fights amongst flocks is indicative of birds being more protective of their food as well as hormones being elevated. Parallel observations are being made of a number of species in Iceland too.
So in western Ireland the Barnacle Goose team having been busy catching and tagging birds, the departures of Greenland White-fronted Geese being closely monitored from the south-east and lots of ring-reading on Brent is being undertaken on a daily basis right around the country

Plans are afoot too for research expeditions to SW Iceland to work on Brent and Greenland White-fronts in the coming days - more catching, counting and ring-reading in western Iceland studying aspects of spring staging ecology. Over the coming months we'll post frequent updates on the type of work being undertaken, the personalities involved and do our bit for promoting Iceland (on a non-commission basis) as a destination for birdwatching and other general wildlife tours...

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