In mid-January 2019, I spotted a ringed Light-bellied Brent Goose in a flock of about 20 foraging for food on the rocky seashore in front of Kilcullen’s Seaweed Baths on Pier Road in Enniscrone.
I emailed the photograph to the Irish Brent Goose Research Group in Downpatrick, Co Down, for identification and Graham McElwaine, Re-sightings Co-ordinator, kindly replied with the following information about this particular Brent Goose.
“The left leg letter isn’t entirely clear, but I’m pretty sure it is a C, which ties in, because 6CRR (6 right leg, C left leg, R ed right leg-ring colour, R ed left leg-ring colour) has been seen in Sligo before.”
Graham also emailed data compiled by the Irish Brent Goose Research Group giving a list of other sightings in recent years of this particular goose which gives a fascinating insight into the movements of the Light-bellied Brent Goose as the birds migrate between Ireland and Greenland, stopping off in Iceland.
The sightings record the bird in a number of locations in Ireland and Iceland, including Skerjafjörður, a beach near Reykjavík, Hvalfjörður in the west of Iceland; Dublin Bay, Sligo Harbour and now Enniscrone.
Graham also said that the Irish Brent Goose Research Group is currently in the middle of changing their database to a Web-based system for data entry and feedback.
I recorded my first sighting of the Light-bellied Brent Goose for the winter 2018/19 in Trá Fheorainn Uí Eo, An Mullach Rua, near Eachléim on the Mullet on Thursday, October 18th.
It’s late April and the Brent Geese have said farewell to Mayo once again to begin their long journey to eastern High Arctic Canada via their stopping off feeding places in western Iceland.
Throughout the winter months, The Light-bellied Brent Goose (Branta bernicla hrota) is a feature of the beaches and estuaries all along the Mayo coastline.
The shores of Killala Bay from Ross to Enniscrone and the Moy estuary is my favourite spot for watching the geese which you can see feeding on eel-grass, mosses and algae in the pools between the rocks at low tide
Ireland is the main wintering grounds from October to April for the geese which migrate in stages via western Iceland and Greenland to Arctic Canada’s Ellesmere, Axel Heiberg, Devon and Bathurst Islands.
This year the brent geese departed our shores near the end of April for their breeding grounds thousands of miles to the north west.
Ireland is the chief wintering grounds for the brent geese with only small numbers flying to Britain and northern France. This makes the Irish brent geese population internationally important.
FOOTNOTE: This post is an ongoing report of my sightings of the Light-bellied Brent Goose in County Mayo, Ireland. My observations take place mostly in North Mayo especially Killala Bay and at various coastal locations in Erris.