In the company of regular contributors to the project, Cian and Rachel Merne, from Dublin, who were up visiting me this weekend, two flocks (of 26 and 2 birds) were found yesterday afternoon (29/08/15), viewing north from Island Hill on Strangford Lough, at 15:20. These birds were, as usual for vanguard geese, WAY out in the middle on a dropping high-ish tide, probably opposite about Tank Island. We made our way round to the Maltings, but repeated scanning failed to locate them again.
These early birds, which are typical of the sort of numbers which could be expected for late August, will undoubtedly be failed or non- breeders, as the first juveniles traditionally do not appear on the Lough until well into September. At this stage of the winter, any ringed birds are incredibly difficult to read, as birds tend to retreat way out with the tide, and do not generally appear feeding on the exposed mud-flats.
A further report from yesterday, from Mike Yeates, was of a similar number of birds, standing in a barley stubble field next to the old windmill, near Harrison's at Greyabbey. This would be a less typical location for this stage of the winter, when the birds are particularly nervous, but, given the numbers, may have been the same birds?
Next two landmarks are going to be (and thanks for your confidence, Christer!) who will be the first to read rings on a marked bird, and who will be the first to see a juvenile?
Similar questions could also be asked for first arrival, etc., for other sites....... I will be happy to publish same on the blog, as this phenology (study of timings, etc. is very much of interest to the Group)