The time finally arrived on Thursday to jet off for my first fieldwork of the 2012/13 brent season! I'll keep it brief as I have so far failed at bothering to charge up the camera so there are no pretty pictures to accompany this post...
Today - this morning at least - was an absolutely glorious winter's day, particular down on the coast with all the sights and sounds of Bull Island as the backdrop to my goose chasing. Just what was needed after an early start in the pouring rain on Friday and a slightly hungover (and somewhat lateish) start on Saturday. Its been a whirlwind so far - 348 resightings of 201 different colour-ringed Brent isn't a bad start! I've had less of a chance to focus on any behavioural studies as many of the geese are still feeding inter-tidally, with many roosting on the water when the tide is high (I reckon I counted ca. 1500ish from the Causeway at highish tide today for example). Still many of the parks already seem to be being used by geese in small numbers, particularly those that are close to the coast (there were about 750 in Kilbarrack this morning at high tide) or that draw birds in from Baldoyle Bay (there have been flocks fairly regularly in Portmarnock and at Red Arches - the site of our really big Dublin catches several years ago). As this trend continues (fingers crossed) my work will shift more and more towards focussing on behavioural watches on individuals.
I've been amazed how faithful particular geese are to areas of mud at low tide, with small flocks within certain areas almost always containing the same core individuals - it will be interesting to see how this effects the social networks produced from this field season. Also of note is a continued strong association between V U red yellow and V C red yellow with one of their blue blue juveniles from last year. A sibling of this bird has been seen in that same flock on a couple of occasions too. This persistence of associations between kin is something that might be important in determining social interactions more generally, something we hope to investigate in the next few years.
Now I'm back out in the field updates here should be more regular, work permitting. More tales from Dublin on the way soon!