Saturday, 28 January 2017

Barnies, but are they tickable?

On a very cold Thursday last week, in bitter east/south easterlies, Jim R had a flock of 21 Barnacle Geese fly in to the lake.  They landed on the spit briefly, before flying to the riverside meadows and then departed NW and that seemed to be that.  Then at the roost last night, Paul W had the same 21 birds fly in and roost on the frozen ice of the lake.  This morning, I paid a quick visit mid morning and found the birds still stood on the ice.  They stayed there a while, until about 10:30, before taking to the air, flying around a bit and then off east.  However, shortly later they returned following some Greylags in and ended up grazing on the spit.  They were still present this afternoon and were seen flying off to the river meadows late afternoon.

Barnacle Geese are always tricky when listing is concerned, however, a large flock in Winter following freezing conditions does seem a whole lot better than a singleton in the middle of summer, which is how I usually see them.  There are some sustainable category C flocks that these birds could have come from, they could even have been pushed over from the continent.  However, there is also a similar sized flock in the Moor Green area in Berks that are from an untickable population deemed not self sustaining.  To my knowledge, these birds are almost always in that area, but on reading a report on this population in the 2005 Berks Annual Report, it stated that exceptionally in the winter of 2006, 45 birds from this population were traced to a flock in Ibsley, Hants in Jan/Feb.  So it is possible that they may have wandered here.  They were at Moor Green last weekend, but I don't think have been seen there since, though they are not always seen at the reserve itself.  From my perspective, I would be tempted to count them on flock size, winter conditions and time of year, but I guess being prudent, the Moor Green birds need to be seen again concurrently with this flock before that happens.

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