Monday, October 09, 2006

Barnacle Geese

We live about ten miles, as the crow flies from the Solway Firth. The Solway Firth in SW Scotland is a very important overwintering site for waterfowl. I mention this because quite often in the last few days when going out to do something, I have heard the honk of the Barnacle Goose as the birds migrate right over Whitelees. I'll hear their calls long before I see a big "V" of migrating geese. The flock sizes seem to be around thirty birds, give or take ten birds. The honk of a Barnacle Goose is similar to that of the Canada Goose but "squeakier".
The geese seemed to be flying higher in the past couple of days, like they are in a big hurry. I can always hear them long before I spot the flock. Judging by the foul wind and rain outside at the moment, I can understand why they've been flying high and fast.
When the weather is like this, I always wonder why the overwintering geese and swans aren't found in the fields around here. We're a bit more sheltered here than down by the sea.
I've put this photo of George walking home back in to point out the trees. See how they're bent from the prevailing winds from the Irish Sea? The more exposed a tree is to these ferocious winds, the more bent they are. Near the Solway, every tree is sculpted and stunted by the winter winds.
The Barnacle Goose flocks are amassing down along the shore now in mega-flocks of thousands upon thousands of birds. A large portion of the Solway has been designated as a refuge for the overwintering norther waterfowl by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Caerlaverock. As well as the Barnacle Goose there are swans coming back with the cygnets that they've produced earlier. You can always tell which swans have come down from Iceland. Aside from the leg rings, their feathers that have been below the waterline all summer as well as their heads have been stained from the tannins in the water.


claude said...

What a stunning photo of those geese! Autumn is, I think my favourite season, although it leads to winter that I am not too fond of.
Quite an interesting and informative post.

UKBob said...

Thats interesting what you say about the swans Peggy. I was just thinking that maybe I should send you my bonsai tree then you can get your winds to sculpture it for me.

The Bird Woman said...

Now I see why you asked about the Barnacles! No wonder I didn't see any - they're all in that field! ;o)

I haven't been to Caerlaverock for ages. Must go this winter!

Peggy said...

If you go, let me know! We can have a birdy blog meet.

sally said...

Very nice post Peg! Love the photos and I even checked out the bird habitat site. Have you seen Winged Migration? A great documentary about bird migration that has individual "bird stories" folded in.