Barrow Brents

I was up in Barrow today to watch the Bluebirds play Mansfield, and did some birding beforehand which salvaged some positivity from the day. I stopped at Pine Lake on the way to see if the drake Scaup was still there. It was, but on the other side of the lake and rather beyond the capabilities of my camera.

Drake Scaup (centre if you are really struggling)

I completed four WeBS counts – Urswick Tarn, Standing Tarn, Greenhills Tarn (if you’re posh, ‘Parkers Pond’ if you’re not) and Ormsgill Reservoir. Between these I also dropped in at Barrow Park where I assumed the Black-headed Gull below had been recently ringed.

In fact it was ringed last winter at Grange duckpond, and was also seen there early this winter before decamping to Barrow in December. It would be interesting to know where it had been in the meantime, presumably much further afield.

Anyway back to the Brents. I noticed on the Walney bird observatory blog that they reported the Brent Goose flock in Furness had dispersed widely around Walney Island, presumably due to lack of food. Movements across Morecambe to Heysham generally increase at this time of year also, and this is presumed to be related to food shortages.

Given this I wasn’t expecting to see many Brent Geese from Roa Island causeway at lunchtime. It was therefore encouraging that no fewer than 175 birds were on view in small parties. There was one colour ringed bird in the closest groups, unfortunately the bird and those with it were pushed off by the tide before I got a shot but you can see details in Bert’s tweet below from when it was recently at Walney.

Numbers of Brent Geese using the area probably are on the cusp of what can be sustained though, and it will be interesting to see what happens in future years in terms of the wintering population and its mobility in response to availability of food.

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