Thursday, October 17, 2013

Geese, yet again. 16.10.2013.

Compared to yesterday the weather had changed dramatically. A blustery SE wind, quite strong at times, cloudy conditions and temperatures decidedly colder than 24 hours previously!! Later it improved only to be followed by rain in late afternoon.

Another session at Gruinart saw much the same pattern occurring except that the White-tailed Eagle never turned up, at least during the morning. It was interesting to witness the fact that Barnacle Geese seem loathe to leave their roost early, in fact almost an hour after the first Grey lag Geese and Greenland White-fronted Geese had either left the area or moved to productive feeding spots locally. Quite a large roost locally of Jackdaw and Rook took to the air and towered above the reserve for a while before moving off to their preferred foraging areas. Again, as yesterday, a male Hen Harrier hunted over the grassland before effortlessly sailing off northwards towards Ardnave. Around that time a party of 15 Redwing "seeped" their way southwards, battling against the quite strong headwind.

Talking later to James How ( Senior Warden , RSPB Gruinart Reserve ) he made the point that the Barnacle Geese are not enjoying the presence of the various White-tailed Eagles visiting the head of the loch. Over the years, since protective wildlife legislation came into being and the reserve was first set up, disturbance from shooting has ceased and the geese have been used to a completely tranquil existent within their adopted winter quarters. Enter the new marauding upstarts that are not only big, but brutal too and quite capable of picking out some hapless individual, knocking it down in flight and treating it as prey. No wonder chaos ensues at the first sight of one of these more recent arrivals to the island!

Later, as I completed some slightly late WeBS counts ( sorry BTO! ) , various flocks of both Barnacle and Greenland White-fronted Geese could be seen on stubble fields around Loch Gorm. Also there were four Whooper Swans previous to them moving off southwards.  I missed a view of a leucistic Barnacle Goose as I spoke to a colleague within which time the goose flock decided to fly off elsewhere. It will be interesting to confirm whether its the same bird that has been present in earlier winters.  Further round the "circuit" two Greenland White-fronted Geese carried orange neck collars but never assumed a sufficiently convenient position enough to read the requisite letters involved!  A Peregrine appeared out of nowhere and adroitly snapped up prey, one ( I believe ) of quite a number of Skylarks that were present in the stubble field.

As the weather closed in I called things to a stop having had yet another very rewarding day!