Saturday, 7 December 2013

Pale bellied Brent Goose Part 2

Last Saturday I did Part 1 of this post, now I continue my
Saturdays Post with Part 2. 
75% of all Pale–bellied Geese migrant to Strangford Lough.  Between 25,000 – 30,000 fly trans-Atlantic.  One thing the researchers, at this moment have no answer for is, how climate change will affect the geese. 
This goose below as one of two that Eileen and I discovered at Islandhill, Strangford Lough.  I sent the information away to the researchers and I ill let you know later what were sent back.


To give you an idea of the monitoring of numbers.

In the 1900s – 10,000 geese

In the 60s & 70s – 7,300 – 13,000

Mid 80s – 25,000

Between 2000 –2007 – 20,000 –40,000  and remains this number.

The counting is done on the ground and by helicopter.  The helicopter hovers near the birds quite low, herding them like a sheep dog herds sheep and when they are on land, they are easy to catch then as they don’t run away.  This is a very expensive method.

There are specially qualified people who count and ring the birds.

On the ground, they lay out a large net in a straight line near when they think the geese will land in a field.  Then they set explosives near it and when fired the net flies into the air and over the birds capturing them below it.  They use 4 Kilogrammes of explosives and over the years only 1 bird has been killed and it was drowned!
Satellite tags however cost £3000 or more

Tagging by plastic rings.  They use 18 letters and 6 numbers. Red/ Blue banded birds are from Canada.

 A few years ago 3 geese were tagged in May 2008   They were all male and 6 years old.  They tracked them until 2011 and were called SKYWALKER, NEDRUM AND GEYSIR.  A lot of information was gleamed throughout this period.

Above is a view of Castle Espie and a few years ago I popped in but before it as open although they allowed me in.  I discovered they were making a film and Chris Packham was speaking to camera. 
This is the member of staff that caught this Pale bellied Brent for the film. 
 Chris Packham with Brent.
 These photos are some of the geese being taggged.
The WWT at Castle Espie have also have a satellite tracking project of the Irish Light-Bellied Brent Geese which migrate to breed in Northern Canada and this article from the BBC illustrates just how fraught with danger these flights can be:

The WWT is mourning the loss of Kerry the Goose after tracking him by satellite all the way from Ireland to an Eskimo's kitchen in Arctic Canada. Kerry had safely completed the arduous 4,500-mile journey, only to be shot by a man out hunting. He was found by researchers who tracked the signal from a transmitter on Kerry's back to the Eskimo's home on remote Cornwallis Island. After knocking on the door they were led to his freezer where Kerry lay still wearing his 3,000 electronic tracker. Kerry was in the hunter's freezer. He hadn't been plucked and the transponder was still on him. The hunter was somewhat surprised and he didn't know what the device on the Goose's back was. Kerry was one of six Irish Light-Bellied Brent Geese being followed on their migration routes by the British-based Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.
 Of the other six Irish Light-Bellied Brent Geese fitted with transponders in May, one called Arnthor is also believed to have been shot. A third Goose, Oscar, died in Iceland, where his body was found on a small island. Researchers think he may have been killed by a bird of prey. 

The 2 Brent that Eileen and I had found had been tagged in different areas. 

Date Ringed   26/03/2009   Ringing Site     Castlemaine Harbour/Cromane, Co. Kerry  Male  Age 6 and has been sighted 40 times to date

Date Ringed        29/04/2009   Ringing Site     K.kot, Álftanes, SW Iceland   Female Age 5 and have been sighted 47 times to date.

I hope you enjoyed this post.

Thanks for visiting and I  suggest if you didn't read Part 1, you will find it under LABELS - Saturdays post  in the right hand column of the blog.

Thank you for all your comments.




  1. a good deal of commentary and interesting photographs Margaret; gosh the satellite tracking certainly comes at a cost

  2. Hi Carole. gald you liked the shots and information and thanks for comment.

  3. Margaret, thank for sharing the tagging information. The Brant are cute, I have seen them here in the winter months. Great post and photos!

  4. Its a fascinating subject Margaret, bird migration.

  5. How interesting to tag these birds and the process that they use. Good photos, and bet that the information gleaned from this process is very helpful

  6. that tagging would be quite the operation.

  7. I'm sure those who track these geese can't help but become emotionally involved with them and must go through a bit of grief when one dies.

  8. Another very interesting post Margaret with some lovely photos. It was especially interesting to read all about the tagging. Such a shame for the bird that ended up in the freezer :(

  9. Very informative and well-illustrated post, Margaret.

  10. Fascinating wildlife images again. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Mersad Donko Photography

  11. I never really could understand why birds and other animals are tagged. Can they track them with a little GPS chip or something? Last night we watched a show about deer, and the little baby deer was so stressed out when they caught and tagged him.

  12. HI Ginny I think if you read my post you will discover how they are tagged and if you do a little research on ho adn hy birds are tagged, you might understand how imortant it is for the researchers to find out where they fly, how highthye fly, what route they fly, where they winter, what route they take reeturing etc etc. Deer are a VERY nervous animal adn can get stressed VERY easily. If you ovserve the Geesse in the shots that have been tagedd, none of them look stressed at all but it takes VERY experienced trained people to do this job so that they are not stressed. Thanks for you comment.

  13. The information about tracking the birds was very fascinating. The method used to capture the geese for counting and tagging is quite interesting. Your photos are wonderful as well.

  14. Beautiful pictures and interesting information, Margaret.

  15. that´s a very interesting post. :)