Our extensive network of counters and ring-readers undertake their work everywhere from western France north to the high arctic!
There are a few key sites at which we carry out most of our intensive work:
1. Strangford Lough, Co. Down, Northern Ireland (54.48, -5.58)
This site has historically held the largest proportion of the population (up to 75% at any one time) due primarily to the extensive Zostera beds. It acts as a key autumn passage area with birds staying for 4-8 weeks typically before dispersing elsewhere around the Irish coastline and to more far flung winter sites.
The WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre provides excellent viewing facilities and the spectacle of up to 25,000 brent in mid-October is worth witnessing. Strangford Lough itself has a wider ornithological interest being one of the top waterbird wintering sites in the UK and Ireland.
2. Dublin Bay, Dublin, Ireland (53.33, -6.21)
Dublin Bay has always been an important site for Brent Geese in Ireland. Comprising a number of enclosed estuaries (Broadmeadow/Rogerstown/Baldoyle), Dublin Bay itself (including North Bull) and an increasing number of inland terrestrial feeding sites, this area hosts around 6,000 Brent during the mid-winter peak. The most notable feature of the area is the widespread and increasing use of amenity grasslands in and around the city. These include football pitches, golf courses, parks and virtually any area of open grassland. Consequently, Brent are extremely approachable in Dublin and can be seen flying over the bustling capital city. Some of Michael O’Briain’s UCD doctoral studies were undertaken here in the mid-1980s and the current high density of accessible birds and capable/enthusiastic ring-readers has led to a great deal of valuable resightings information coming from Dublin.
3. Alftanes, Reykjavik, Iceland (64.09, -21.99)
While western Iceland has always been the major spring- and autumn-staging area for this population, this study area has become much more important in the last decade. At this site typically over 3,000 occur in April/May (hundreds in autumn) feeding on inter-tidal sites, agricultural grasslands and golf courses. In contrast to bigger sites further north Alftanes is a relatively easy study site to count, observe and capture brent. (And it is near to Gudmundur’s house...)
4. Arctic Archipelago (Queen Elizabeth Islands), Canada (75.8, -96.5)
Research activities in this region are unsurprisingly extremely difficult and expensive. In 2005, 2007 and 2014, expeditions were undertaken jointly with Canadian Wildlife Service staff and supported by the Polar Continental Shelf Project to Bathurst, Ellesmere, Axel Heiberg, Devon and adjacent Islands to locate breeding areas, investigate aspects of breeding ecology and capture/mark individuals.