Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Iceland Staging - The Ring-Readers Story...

As Kendrew said in the last blog, the Group had two teams out in Iceland this spring, one to ring-read (us!!), and another to catch and ring geese. The latter team are still in Iceland, so I will leave them to report on the blog about their efforts when they return.
"Team Jameson", all from Ireland, this year sadly with Gerry Murphy absent due to back problems, formed the ring-reading crew, and were Patricia Watson, Alex Portig, Cian Merne and myself. Kerry Mackie, who is a licensed canon-netter, also used the new CHEAP Easyjet flights ex Belfast International, and was also there for the same period, but was separately instrumental in assisting the catch effort.
"Team Jameson" traditionally concentrates on trying to ring-read north of Reykjavik, where the birds are more dispersed, less well covered, and perhaps more distant.
Combined with the fact that it had been a very cold winter there, we were visiting Iceland rather earlier (about a week) than normal, and it soon became clear that the "grass" fields normally used by the geese were still grey/brown, and few flocks were using them. This led to ring-reading being normally concentrated on the fore-shore at water splashes, like here, just below that amazing Kirkjufell mountain at Grundarfjörður

and at Kolgrafarfjörður, further East
Because conditions were so difficult (and in addition the birds were very flighty, presumably as they were undecided on whether to come out on land), the numbers of geese read were MUCH less than normal.
HOWEVER, I CAN report to our Normandy observers that we managed to read FIVE out of your 17 regulars whilst there - BPRY & BVRY, CFWW and KDRY & KIRY!!
With birds being so difficult to identify, and with the catch team's requirements being rather specific (to catch birds recently caught  in Ireland), we were also able to highlight to the other team where such birds were present up-country, and possibly catchable.
One of the other benefits of visiting Iceland is that we get to meet long-time friends, and to experience their hospitality. This time it was particularly great to spend an evening with Guðmundur and his wife Solveg who had also kindly invited Svenja Auhage and her husband. A few nights later, Oli and Helena Torfason also opened their doors wide to the whole group, and on both occasions we felt very specially welcomed.
It was also great to meet up with Magnus Magnusson and his partner, Thorgirder, and Oli Eirarsson, whom I first came across when I first came to Iceland, catching whooper swans, way back in 1995!!
Oli Torfason, me, Oli Einarsson, Magnus Magnusson (records do not recount how much Jameson disappeared whilst taking this photo!!

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