Monday 23 January 2017

Dawn Patrol - Brent Goose Census in Dublin Bay

Scopes, clickers and coffees were essential kit last Friday as a crack  BirdWatch Ireland team of 8 quietly slipped into position ahead of sunrise. The pre-dawn preparations were vital to ensure we got accurate counts of all the Brent Geese that had roosted overnight on the tidal waters of Dublin Bay. From Dun Laoghaire to Sutton, the Tolka Estuary, Liffey outer and all around Bull Island there were counters lying in wait making sure not a single goose went uncounted. 

Ready and waiting at Bull Island South Lagoon Ricky Whelan
 Annually Light Bellied Brent Geese (to give their full title!) populations in Dublin Bay and at other coastal sites are monitored by IWeBS - The Irish Wetland Bird Survey.  Once daylight arrives many will leave the coast in search of grazing opportunities on grasslands such as parks and pitches. It would be an impossible task to try find and count these scattered feeding groups, hence the coordinated dawn count!

Brent Geese flock flying overhead Dick Coombes

On the morning we totaled a combined count of 7064 Brent, making them the most numerous waterbird species in Dublin Bay. This number is higher than what we have seen during IWeBS and Dublin Bay Birds Project Counts. The explanation can probably be put down to the timing of the count and capturing all the geese just after dawn as other counts are often conducted later in day by which time the geese may have already departed for inland feeding sites. More information on species numbers within Dublin Bay can be viewed here on the IWeBS Project Page.

Light Bellied Brent Geese resting at a grassland feeding site Dick Coombes

We were thrilled to see such good numbers of Brent. We had plenty of time to count the flocks as they remained roosting well after it had become bright. At around 0930am flocks of various sizes began to leave the coast and head inland as expected. After a successful mission the team returned to a local cafe to tally counts and more importantly for the second coffee of the day!

The BirdWatch Ireland Count Team having a 
well deserved coffee Ricky Whelan


  1. I live in blackrock and have seen flocks daily fly over my balcony and land on the beach. Be sad to see them go.

    1. Hi Bernadette, thanks for comment. As you know the Brent Gesse have all but left now. I hope it wasnt too sad a time for you this year! They will be back and we will be here to count them and make sure they are been taken care of well into the future!