Thursday, March 10, 2011

International Goose Census.

The past two days, and nights, have been a bit of a nightmare with sleet squalls coming through and wind gusts up to 70mph. Cold, wet and noisy! Today reneged slightly, very slightly! As I write this early post, evening sunshine bathes the landscape, but one that, a few minutes ago, was covered by a coating of hailstones that disappeared as quickly as they were laid down. The seas off SW Islay are unbelievable in their ferocity with, consequently, ferry services being affected from the mainland. The heights of some of the advancing tidal waves are impressive and odd seabirds on the move appear as mere miniatures set against a gigantic wall of water.

Nevertheless , today, despite the conditions, was the first day of the Greenland White-fronted Goose census. As I've explained before a very close eye is kept on this sub-species, which breeds in Greenland and winters in Ireland and western Scotland. Its numbers have declined in recent years and, therefore, its population is monitored via winter counts. Whilst Barnacle Geese appeared to have sought out more sheltered areas today, the GWF's were still using their preferred and "traditional" feeding areas. Little else was noted in the circumstances, the most interesting was watching a group of Common Gulls hovering and swirling over a coastal inlet and pattering on the water's surface, where the tide was being forced in under considerable pressure and stirring up material on the strand line, as well as bringing in new material.

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