A couple more emails from different places appear to confirm hopeful signs...
Robin Vage, reporting from Belfast Lough at Kinnegar, at lunch-time today had 32 brent, equally split between adults and juveniles.
Broods were: 2 x 1 juv., 1 x 2 juvs., 4 x 3 juvs.
Then, in came the first record from Dublin, observed at dusk last night, of a single family which included 1 juvenile. This record, including supportive photos, came from Twilight Plunkett.
I was out myself today at the north end of Strangford Lough. The birds are already becoming more dispersed, with significant numbers encountered further south, and rings read, at Pig Island and the Gasworks. Whilst the big flocks out in the middle seldom hold large numbers of juveniles, the latter were very much in evidence around the margins, and particularly adjacent to stream outfalls, with broods of up to 5 juveniles being seen.