Wednesday, December 16, 2009

15/16th December, 2009.

A combined post given that both days were given over to the Greenland White-fronted Goose International Count. Several teams cover the whole of Islay on both days, with the two successive counts for the same routes being compared and a composite total arrived at. Similarly, teams will be covering other parts of the wintering area elsewhere. Whilst the "Greenland" White-fronted Goose is a sub-species it is treated as a separate species due to its discrete population and wintering areas. Sadly, numbers over the past few years have declined, with the main concerns and attention for this being focussed on the breeding grounds. There is thought to be competition with other species, notably the increasing incursion of Canada Geese, but much more work needs to be carried out in what is not the easiest of environments to carry out research , the logistics for which are very expensive to say the least.

Obviously such is also an opportunity to count our other wintering geese, mainly Barnacle Geese, efforts against which in our sector, yesterday, were severely frustrated when a military jet carried out a mock bombing run on what is known to be a designated target site, a very prominent farm house in the NW of the island. Whilst there are no loud bangs involved the sweeping, noisy presence of the aircraft caused mayhem and the 2000 or so geese beggared off almost as quickly as the plane!!

Given the weather was quite reasonable on both days , and fairly calm, other birds were noticeably active, particularly raptors , with hunting Hen Harriers, Sparrowhawk and Merlin being noted. A flock of Twite near Kilhoman was nice and a small party of Goldfinch near Saligo proved not all of them leave us in winter. Common Gulls are now becoming very obvious with some quite large parties at various locations.

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