When birds first arrive on Strangford Lough at the end of August/early September, ring-reading is very difficult, because the arriving birds are nervous, and prefer to follow the out-going tide edge looking for the eel-grass. On the massive Northern mudflats here, this can make them nigh on impossible to see, let alone read rings!! Temperature is also a major factor, and you will hear us "regulars" muttering "heat-haze" under our breath as a problem.
Once this phase is over, however, the birds are forced ever further up the foreshore, even at low tide, to seek food. Combined with the fact that they become acclimatised to the low-flying aircraft practicing their take-off and landings out of Newtownards Airport, there comes a period of about a month or six weeks when they become much more accessible to the telescope. As in the title, now is the time to get out and read rings!! 75%+ of the population will be staging through Strangford Lough, possibly heading on to other small sites where there is no chance of their being picked up and read, so now is the important time for those of you who can make it here to see this great spectacle (30,000+ birds in early October!!), to get out and help!!
Current observations support the notion that this is going to be another VERY poor (<1%) breeding season.
Elsewhere, Cian Merne reports that he did a sweep of North Dublin Bay and Baldoyle Bay this morning, and couldn't find a single brent goose!!