Sunday, 23 April 2017

Numbers still high in the north and no doubt building in Iceland)

As Graham mentioned in the last post (and I too apologise for the delay in posting anything) there are by now lots of Brent in western Iceland and while numbers between Co. Down and Dublin are certainly down to relatively small numbers (unlike the thousands of a few weeks ago), we've reasonable numbers hanging on further north.

And at this time of year often calling in the background are Sandwich Terns, Whimbrel and that gorgeous splash of colour is provided by flocks of Black-tailed Godwits. The latter two both destined for setting up territories in the Icelandic landscape.

Yesterday in Co. Louth there were again large numbers of increasingly colourful Godwits including two colour-ringed birds and easily the largest groups of Whimbrel I've ever seen.
Admittedly I don't get out much, but 480 Whimbrel mixed with Black-tailed Godwits flying between a restricted high tide roost space and some soft grass invertebrate-filled fields was impressive. For those of you who haven't read this, a lovely insight into the migratory schedules and routes of Icelandic Whimbrel is in Jose Alves and co-authors paper -
http://www.nature.com/articles/srep38154.

Even without reading rings today at Dundrum it was evident there were new kids in town with an especially pale plumaged noticeable individual and 2 dark-bellied (nominate bernicla) birds present. A metal-ringed BY and a BB were new to me and we're still getting good positional data from some of the neck-collared and GPS backpacked birds. When we get some downloads from Iceland (APB's being issued on target birds there) we'll endeavour to show some maps showing how the birds made the journey from Ireland- Iceland. Not via aircraft which is our vehicle of choice in the next few weeks.

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