Thursday, 29 March 2018

A momentary distraction - Barnacle Geese

Irish wintering Barnacle Geese breed in north eastern Greenland - many on the cliffs and some fairly dramatic footage many of you will have seen of the chicks making their first glide and a proportion of them getting nabbed by hungry Arctic Foxes availing of the temporary bounty. This population winters almost entirely on the islands and adjacent coastline of the north and west coasts of Scotland and Ireland.
The population has been increasing and - as a slight deviation from our normal work - some of us were tempted to extend the studies on-going on Islay, the Inishkeas and elsewhere and both add to information on local movements in Ireland (where birds are only ringed on the Inishkeas) and contribute to the wider scale picture on this population in the Scottish/Irish range. Bring out the cannon-nets, set up our base at goose HQ in Inishowen and try catching and marking some birds there.
In Inishowen the Barnacles roost primarily on Glashedy Island and the Garvan Island for Inishtrahull.

We have had two successful trips out of three there since January and the total number of birds ringed there now is in excess of 200 birds. This will supplement the 10-15 ringed birds that were present prior to ringing (obv birds ringed elsewhere) and give us something to work on at the individual level for many years to come.

Our most recent catch (155 processed birds) was completed on 06:50 on Saturday 24th March at Trawbrega Bay some pictures of which are attached. A great team effort (involving in excess of 20 people) led and executed by myself, Daniel, Stuart, Kerry, Alan with considerable support from Martin, Graham, Gerry, Colin, Helen, Sinead, Aimee and Sarah and an army of volunteers - thanks all.
Lots of ringed Barnacles around Malin/Trawbrega now, this autumn and many winters to come - please look out for rings and report them to us if you are in the vicinity.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Our IBGRG website is functioning again!

For lots of frustrating reasons (much of which has to do with faceless unresponsive companies who manage the internet) it has been unfortunate that the IBGRG website ( has not been accessible for some time. The previous website (ending *.org) was sabotaged - seems you can do that?! - which did not help matters, and the content of the new domain is pretty much the same as previous (with a few improvements). 

We have a plan over the next few months to add more content to make the website a more valuable reference point for the project - what we do, what we have learned etc with 'newsy' items still being posted on this blog (linked to the website on the front page of

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Publication of a major review of the status, distribution and trends of goose populations in the northern hemisphere

This report - - just published was led by Tony Fox and Jim Leafloor and collates information from lots of people (we contributed for ECHA Brent) about goose population across the northern hemisphere. Lots of evening reading for you all there. 

This is what it says on the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) website:
"This report attempts to review the abundance, status and distribution of wild goose populations in the northern hemisphere. The report comprises three parts that 10 summarise key findings from the study and the methodology and analysis applied; 2) contain the individual species accounts for each of the 68 populations included in the report; and 3) provide the datasets compiled fo this study which will be accessible on the Arctic biodiversity Data Service." [Note that at the time of this posting the report has temporarily been removed from the CAFF website while a few edits are made]

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Oh, No, They Haven't!!...

Following on from my last post, news from Alain Livory, Roselyne Coulomb and Philippe Lemarinel is that IZBY & U2BY have appeared again today back at Regneville in Normandy, France, so the trip north to Devon was only a brief sojourn!! Given that this represents a flight of about 250 km in each direction, amazing!! Wouldn't you like to know what was going on in their minds!!

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Early Movers...

It looks like some of the geese have already decided to start filtering North. Over the past fortnight I have been getting Dublin birds further up the east coast, at Carlingford Lough and at Killough, County Down, both of which sites have, in previous winters, been popular with staging birds from there.
Then, tonight, news from Dave Smallshire that he located IZBY & U2BY today during a WeBS count at the Exe Estuary in Devon. This pair have been regulars at Regneville in Normandy, France every winter since being ringed in Iceland in 2015. They have been recorded passing through Strangford Lough each autumn, but this is the first spring staging record for them.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Another Red-Letter Day....

Following close on after news of the 5,000th individual goose being ringed under our project, tonight sees yet another milestone - I've just been entering data which means that our database has now passed the 200,000th record mark!!
This means that our database is one of the largest on any species, and is very much a flagship for a "Citizen Science" grounded project. Currently the number of contributors to our project stands at 1,239 observers, so a REALLY BIG THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU!!
Just in case any of you might wonder what 200,000 records might look like in terms of emails since ringing began in 2001, this is it, in terms of files taking up the bottom shelf of my office bookcase!!