Thursday, 17 October 2013

Results rolling in from the October census: headlines over 34,000 birds; hardly any young

A few weekends ago various groups of Brent-enthusiasts were out and about counting Brent; trying to get a comprehensive count in that snapshot in what is always a very short and unpredictable time window when we know the majority of the population are concentrated at relatively few manageable sites. I say manageable - it still requires the unenviable job of counting birds from the air in Iceland and the not-to-be-taken-on-lightly job of counting the very large numbers at Strangford.

Provisional results from many sites are still to be compiled but the running totals approximate to:

21,000 (Strangford)
10,000 (W Iceland)
2,000 (L Foyle)
1,000 (Tralee & Castlemaine Hbr, Kerry)

Thanks to the participants and local organisers for covering these key major sites.
A lot of other folk have submitted data from all round the Irish coast and also Wales and Scotland - thanks all.
We'll collate this and circulate the results.

What has also become apparent is that the 2013 breeding season was not a very productive one for Brent in the Canadian breeding grounds. It seems likely that we will be lucky to have more than double figures this year. We suspect that the combination of late snow melt, low temperatures and other climatic factors in the breeding range have led to this - presumably the same is the case for other species on the same flyway (e.g. Turnstone) or those that migrate south within continental North America but have the same breeding range (e.g. Greater Snow Geese). We'll put the feelers out and try to report what info we can accumulate over the coming weeks.

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