Little news as still pestered with flu, the most powerful antidote at the moment being the prospect of a trip to Norfolk!!! Changed my arrangements around to Wednesday as the predicted weather (for here) on Thursday and Friday, and actually into Saturday, is not good and I can't entertain the aspect of being delayed!!! It gives me the added flexibility of calling in at various places en-route.
Took a look at the wintering Grey lag Goose figures, kindly supplied by Margaret Morris at SNH and drawn from the December International Survey data when two days was spent covering the whole island to determine the current number of Greenland White-fronted Geese on the island, within which time numbers of other species were collected too.
It rather looks as if, at absolute maximum, the number of Grey lag Geese on Islay at the moment could be in the region of 600 birds. On the other hand, by the nature of the records, locations etc etc the number might well be two thirds of that. Wintering geese are usually very loyal to their feeding areas until such time as they're eaten out when, of course, they move. By contrast, the Grey-lag Geese here at the moment appear to be more mobile, which creates obvious problems when one tries to construct a population figure. What it does mean is that around 1000 birds have departed the island since the counts were done in the autumn (see previous posts for details). Whether that suggests these remaining birds are Islay's resident population is open to debate. The wintering population only began to be more apparent in the 2007/2008 winter "season" as, previous to that, birds were here but the numbers were fairly consistent and rather low. The wintering presence does perhaps parallel the rather exponential growth of our breeding population in recent times, so the next couple of seasons are going to very interesting.
But what of the 1000?? Are they perhaps birds destined for the Solway that are developing the habit of using Islay as a stopping off point. Sadly the collared bird seen earlier, but whose details weren't secured, appears to be one of those that has moved on. Or is all this conjecture, simply a question of trying to make the jigsaw pieces fit? Who knows? Future work might yet give us some answers.