Friday, 6 September 2013

The boys are back in town


They say that one Swallow doesn't make it summer, but, for me anyway, the arrival of the Brent Geese does make it winter.

And this week, 800 of them have been reported in Strangford Lough, Co. Down, so it’s official! Birders in north county Dublin report that there are no geese present on the Rogerstown or Broadmeadow/Swords estuaries just yet, but that a single pioneering goose has been seen just inside the county border on Gormanston beach. As more and more of these birds arrive in Ireland from their breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic, they will filter down along the east coast and into Dublin Bay.

Colour-ringed Brent Goose “CNRY” (right leg inscription, left leg 
inscription, right leg ring colour, left leg ring colour). Paddy Dwan. 

This population of geese is remarkably well studied, and the Irish Brent Goose Research Group have colour-ringed lots of them over the years. Ring reading, by what is now an army of dedicated amateur ring-readers, allows information on movements, site fidelity and survival to be collected. Even the social structure of this population is being studied. This will help to understand how an individual’s social standing affects its physical condition and survival.

Despite breeding in remote areas of the Arctic Canada, 
they are quite at home in the parks and pitches 
of Dublin in the winter. Matthew Silk.

Ultimately, all this work will highlight the factors that have the greatest influence on Brent Goose ecology and will feed in to future conservation actions for the species. So, when these birds turn up in Dublin Bay in the coming weeks, why not get out and see if you can see some colour-ringed ones? Any ring-reads (including the date and location) should be sent to .  


  1. I had 4 Brent Geese at Broadmeadow (outer estuary) during an I-WeBS count on Saturday (7th)! There were none on the Bull.

    1. There were seven Brent on Sandymount Strand last Tuesday morning (17th), including one ringed bird - ZPLY. The (excellent) Irish Brent Goose Research Group blog has just posted on the numbers current in Strangford Lough - worth a read.