Monday 19 February 2018

A goose for Christmas? Not this one ...

Another familiar bird in Ireland for Christmas is the Brent goose NOT the sort of goose Ebenezer Scrooge gave to Bob Cratchit for Christmas, the Brent goose migrates to Ireland, as well as the UK and northern France, for the long Canadian winter (from October to March).

Arriving first to Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland, where they feed for one to two months on the inter-tidal eel grass Zostera, the birds then move on to various coastal estuaries around Ireland such as Dublin Bay and the North Bull Island in Clontarf, on Dublin's northside, and Rogerstown and Broadmeadows estuaries in Co Dublin, the Wexford Slobs and Harbour, Tralee Bay, Lough Gill and Akeragh Lough in Co Kerry and on to around Lough Foyle in Co Derry.

Up to 30,000 birds migrate to Ireland each year, feeding off the rich saltmarsh grasses, and inter-tidal and coastal vegetation. They also happily feed on wide, flat grass spaces such as farmlands, parks and football fields.

Their honking is a very distinct sound and when it is heard, many people around the coast will lift their heads to follow their distinctive v-shaped flying formation across the sky.

Around April, the Brent geese head off towards western Iceland and from June to August they return to their breeding grounds in the Canadian arctic.

Irish Independent

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