20 Mar 2012

The Brent Geese In The Bay In Front Of My House

Brent Geese flying into Sunset

I am very lucky that I live within a hundred yards of the South shore of Strangford Lough. I look out towards Killyleagh past various islands. The nearest are Launches Long and Launches Little. I can walk out to these two islands when the tide is out via a small causeway. There is also Salt Island which is owned by the National Trust and has a small bothy which is mainly used by canoeists. Beyond Salt Island there is Green Island an important Gull breeding island.

Google Map of the Bay in front of House

View from House of Salt Island on left and Launches Long on right
At this time of year as spring is arriving I always feel slightly sad that the Brent Geese that winter in Strangford Lough and particularly the ones in the bay in front of my house are in the process of getting ready for their trip to their high Canadian arctic breeding grounds. I love the fact when I go out to the car in the morning that I can hear them calling down on the shore along with Oystercatcher , Redshank, Greenshank and occasionally Wigeon.

In the afternoons the Brent regularly feed on the grass on Launches Long forming a large tight nit group I assume to protect themselves from predators. They tend to first arrive by swimming and then walking up to the central area of the hill on the island. Then any airborne birds tend to drop into the group.

Brent Geese feeding on Launches Long
If they are disturbed the sky can be absolutely full of them and in the picture below there are over three hundred.
Brent Geese in flight over Launches Long

In the evenings I quite regularly take Pickle for a walk out to the islands and on a beautiful evening it can be absolutely beautiful out there. On launches Long you get a great uninterrupted view of the Mourne Mountains and of my house. Both photos were taken from same point the one of my house due south and the other due west.

View of the Mourne Mountains from Launches Long
View of my house from Launches Long

 As it gets closer to spring the Brent are less shy than when they first arrive and you can walk past them without them flying off.
Brent Geese on Shore at Myra

Brent Geese Feeding on Sunset Shoreline

Single Brent Goose on Launches Little.
I was out a few evenings ago and there were quite a few Brent Geese and a small flock of Greylag flying around. One of the hardest things when photographing flocks of birds is to get a shot that has all the birds separate so I was pleased to get the below image.

Brent Geese in flight

Brent Geese in flight

Two Greylag Geese in Lovely Evening Light

Greylag in flight over Launches Little
 On most visits to the islands you will come across one or two Hares on my walk this morning I found six and was only able to get three in the frame at one time.
Three Irish Mad March Hares
I usually find that by the time the first Swallows arrive around the house in a couple of weeks time the Brent will have gone and won't return until September. I now have a house list of 107 species, that includes using the scope from the house. So all in all not a bad place to live :-)