Friday, 25 July 2014

Long walks and goose families

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...


  1. I'll be so excited to hear about the helicopter trip and catches- have a great time! Have been stalking the blog hoping for an update! I wish I had been there to see the snowy owl! :) It all sounds wonderful.

    Dad (Graham)- we're still having a great time in Dunfanaghy, will be heading home sadly on Sunday having had a wonderful time with great weather. Ricky is now swimming WAY better and faster than I can and almost as well as Ian, and Robbie is catching up fast. :) The kitten is getting huge. We walked to Lough Na Boll today, and had a lovely time. The kids are constantly singing Queen songs- the same album we used to listen to up here when I was a kid. :P Have a great time and can't wait to hear/see your photos. xxx

  2. Dad (Ed) ..... had a few awesome days on Scotland - soooo hot! More like the south of France with blue skies and high bases every day. Climbed to 8000' in ripping thermals and sharing them with the local raptors was awesome. Saw a butterfly at great height .... he passed under my wing.

    Yeh, get this grammar thing cleaned up Ian :) - you are usually immaculate (if slightly offbeat and tongue in cheek amusing) in your writing. I love following the exploits from afar - keep em coming. Get the photos ... we want to see them.

  3. I wrote a comment but it appears to have disappeared into the ether. Basically I said how pleased I was that Graham and Kerry have been handling goslings of the 3 families mentioned in the recent post. Weather here in Strangford is very hot, but rain is coming and ground needs it. Best regards, Ralph

  4. Graham- Am following the Brent Goose blog and have already posted a question but not sure if it's reached you. However am looking forward very much to seeing some photos. Bmcpolin