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Where Brent Geese Dare


or anyone who’s been down on the South Beach over the past week or so, the above formation captured by Greystones Rocks winner Anne McInerney will be a familiar one.

Cardiff goes a pic hunting…

Take a walk further on down to Charlesland, and you might just find hundreds of these feathered fellas in chillout mode.

Yep, it’s that time of year when brent geese gather at our estuaries – Kilcoole seafront [captured above by Emma O’Halloran] is another favourite hangout – before they take to the skies again..

The Charleland crew. Pic: Cian Cardiff

Just where, and why, and when, we decided to find out by checking in with local ornithological surveyor and snapper Cian Cardiff…

The pale-bellied (or light-bellied) brent goose is a species that breeds in Arctic Canada and winters in Ireland in large numbers each year.

The Kilcoole crew. Pic: Pablo

In Greystones, we are lucky enough to see quite a large number of birds passing along the seafront most days from November right the way into late March before they begin their migration back to Canada. Every year around the middle of Febuary, the Charlesland driving range plays host to a flock of anything up to 1,000 of these long-distance migrants. This flock moves between Greystones and Kilcoole marsh to find the best feeding pastures. They are mainly grazing on the lush grass and occasionally can be seen in the breaches at Kilcoole feeding on the sea weed in the saltmarsh.

This year, with the driving range closed during the Level 5 lockdown, the brent geese don’t know what hasn’t hit them, being able to feed on the grassland without having to dodge golf balls. These small geese will be vacating Greystones and moving north quite soon as they begin that journey to their breeding grounds in Arctic Canada, before returning back here in late October to do it all over again.

We wish them a safe and productive journey – with, of course, plenty of goose bumps.

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