Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Autumn approaches

Now, after mid-August, our Arctic goslings are growing up and will be capable of flight in the next few weeks. Whilst I haven't heard yet, it would be no great surprise if there were already some adult Brent at Strangford. Typically the first arrivals are some dozens of birds in mid-August on the northern mudflats. It is likely that these birds by-pass Iceland entirely and therefore cross the Greenland ice-cap and fly directly to Ireland. I speculate this is the case as it doesn't make sense for them to stop (at all) or for any length of time in Iceland and then head to Ireland. I suspect it's one or other. 

As the expedition team had reported already, the setting sun and no doubt chillier and snowy conditions in the Canadian Arctic will be giving the geese the cue that it is time to head to warmer climes. A month from now we'd expect thousands already in Ireland and more like tens of thousands in western Iceland. It it logical that the vanguard are the mobile failed or non-breeding adults - why hang around in Canada any longer than necessary? Equally logical is that the later migrants will be the young and their parents as they may have moulted later and certainly the young have to grow their flight feathers before they are able to take to the air. 

We'll try to keep you up to date with the autumn arrivals as information comes in.

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