Numbers of birds left in Ireland continue to dwindle. As usual, those left tend to be family groups, presumably being held back by a juvenile not quite ready for the long journeys ahead.
Yesterday, at Dundrum Inner Bay, County Down, numbers were further reduced from the 60 or so which had held for about a week, down to 22. Amongst them were old favourites, F6WW and LUWW, with their newly ringed juvenile, UHBY, which has an unringed sibling. Target for the catch on 28 March 2015 at Dundrum had been these old WW rings, which were mainly ringed in the period 2006 - 2008, many of which are now showing their age, and are getting difficult to read in the field. The recent catch resulted in 7 such birds being provided with new rings, together with another old Icelandic ringed bird. As the plastic rings deteriorate with age, it is vital that a programme of catches aimed at ring replacement be maintained.
The only other report of any sort of numbers over the past couple of days has been from Tony Gallagher, of 25 at Keadue Strand, County Donegal, on 30 April. We would be keen to know details of any other flocks which have yet to make a move.
It was with some surprise that I was contacted on 30 April by Ciaran Hatsell, Senior Assistant Warden at the Fair Isle Bird Observatory, Shetland, reporting that P2WR had paid a visit, and had probably been there since 25 April. This was our first ever record of a ringed bird from Shetland, and Ciaran tells me it is their first brent goose record on Fair Isle since 2010!!
They say lightning never strikes twice, so it was a double surprise when I was contacted yesterday, 01 May, by Dave Okill from the Shetland Ringing Group, to say he had found another brent goose at Sullam Voe, Mainland Shetland and that it was ringed too!! In this case the bird was PSRB, one of the birds we ringed on the breeding grounds on Axel Heiberg Island in High Arctic Canada last summer.
Both these birds are considerably off the direct route to Iceland, so it will be very much of interest to see whether they manage to rejoin the rest of the flyway population. Watch this space!!