Monday, 27 February 2012

IGC Goose Count weekend

The weekend of 25th/26th February is the international weekend for goose counts for the Icelandic-breeding Goose Census (IGC), which aims to count all the Greylag Geese and Pink-footed Geese from Icelandic populations. Shetland birds included winterers from Iceland, while local breeders are probably 'short-stoppers' which have stopped short on their migration north in the past and bred in the islands.

Unfortunately, with many of the regular counters away this weekend, counts were largely restricted to the main wintering areas, in South Mainland and Unst. The final total for Shetland (excluding many of the islands with smaller populations but also excluding Yell and Fetlar) was around 3500 birds. In South Mainland, initial results suggest that there were about 2000 birds from Sandwick south, slightly lower numbers than earlier in the winter (there was a census in December). On Unst, there were about 750 birds, almost exactly the same number as were present earlier. Overall, counts suggest slightly lower numbers than earlier in the winter.

A paper on the status of the Greylag Goose in Shetland has just been submitted to Scottish Birds and will hopefully appear soon.

For full details on birds and other aspects of the natural history of Shetland, don't forget to visit the website at, while there is also a Facebook site, with different content, at .