Some of the Brent team are shortly heading to western Iceland to survey Brent. I personally don`t recall having ever been there so early in autumn so it will interesting to see what are probably peak numbers there. These birds will only have arrived in the last few weeks and undoubtedly birds will be arriving throughout September and into October whilst at the same time some (likely few) birds may entirely bypass Iceland and there will also be a slow and steady movement southwards to Strangford and other Irish sites.
So we'd expect to see several tens of thousands of Brent occupying the main intertidal sites in Faxafloi and Brediafjordur, at some Brent being belly-deep in Zostera beds. Unfortunately many of these big sites are vast convoluted bays, on the whole inaccessible unless you can fly or swim. Neither of which I can do.
It is likely that family groups will already be present but the majority will be slower to migrate from the Arctic, through the breeding islands and across the inland ice of Greenland. For we avid Brent watchers it will be the first time we'll get an idea of what sort of a breeding year it has been. The journey is undoubtedly tough and in Iceland the young Brent will be especially vulnerable to a new experience - in a fast form Gyrfalcons will patrol these bays trying to pick off waders, ducks and geese; a slower but no less serious threat comes in the form of White tailed Eagles. We'd expect peak numbers in Iceland mid- to late September and that peak shifts south to Irish sites by mid-October.
We'll try to keep you posted on what we're seeing up there.