Over the past few days we've initiated the new guys in camp with a series of brutal marches in order to find moulting flocks of geese and geese families. On the plus side we have seen a lot of the major bird species and, judging by people's reactions, Sabine's gull and snowy owl were the highlights. On one walk we were also followed for several km by a musk ox who occasionally blocked our way, but who was sent running by loud noises.
Ultimately, we found several groups of moulting birds and a few
families. In particular, we discovered a group of 3 families with 5,4
and 4 goslings respectively. In one family the goslings were noticeably
larger and therefore older than the others.
The next day Kerry and I (and note I say I rather than myself now -
thanks to those who criticized and corrected me before) walked back to
where the families were to attempt some behavioural observations. We had
to watch from a km away as they were easily spooked. Also, the family
sizes now were all 4 so one gosling is gone already.. The group is
pretty chaotic as the goslings charge around and often congregate in a
large group leading to aggression between adult pairs. Watching the
adults it appears the female spends more time feeding than the male.
However, other variables may be important. For example, after being
frightened by a snowy owl feeding rates dropped and birds were more
watchful. Feeding rates were also observed to increase when birds fed in
lush pond-side vegetation. Adults also spent some time preening. The
goslings were either grazing or running around the whole time. All
fairly anecdotal but lovely stuff.
We have the helicopter booked for most of the 26th July and the team are planning some big catches. Updates on that very soon. BTW I think it is Barb that has been giving Ian a hard time about his grammar...