Friday, 20 February 2015

Wild goose chase......

For last 10 weeks I have been making regularly visits to the farmland west of Fenham Flats.  These visits are part of research work looking at the feeding behaviour of Light bellied brents once they move off the mudflats.  As I have reported previously, there is a mixed flock of Pink-foots, Barnacles and Brents.  This flock totals about 2,700 birds with an additional 300 Greylags joining the flock when they visit Budle Bay.  The most interesting feature is that this flock can go missing especially when you consider that the Brents will rarely stray more than two fields from the shore.

Evidence shows that the Brent are increasingly preferring temporary grass rather than winter-drilled cereals.  It is also fascinating that when the Brent first come onto fields in late December, they do not mix with other species of geese.  By mid February they are quite happy mixing with their bigger relatives especially the Barnacles.  Barnacles are also interesting - when they first started to over-winter they could always be found in and around Budle Bay.  This winter they could be found early on in Budle Bay but increasingly have spent their time at the southern end of Fenham Flats.

Other counts from yesterday include a flock of 14 Tree sparrows and 24 Linnets at Elwick and a good passage of Gannets off-shore.

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