Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Recent News on the bean goose flock

The weather has made visits to see the bean geese difficult in recent days but some good observations have taken place in the past couple of weeks.

On the 16th I had a good view of three separate groups of birds. One of 46 to the north of Grangeneuk, one of 31 to the south of Threiprig and one of 75 at Wester Jaw.

A roost visit to Fannyside Muir on the 18th however produced no birds coming to roost in the time I was there.

The most interesting record occurred on the 11th December when a large group of over 100 birds were seen in a new feeding area on the western fringes of the study area.

This month has also seen the presence of a large flock of c1000 Pinkfeet in and around the upper Avon Valley nr Slamannan. Up to 3 Barnacle Geese were present within this flock.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Early December news about the bean goose flock at Slamannan

A visit to the plateau at lunchtime yesterday found two flocks of bean geese NW of Slamannan. The total count was 214 birds between both groups.

The smaller group of 87 birds was close enough to record some collar details of birds caught in recent years.

Another group of visitors to the area was a small group of  Whooper Swans. They are not unusual at this time of year but always a pleasure to look at when they appear.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

News on the bean goose flock Slamannan

A visit to the plateau yesterday in lovely sunshine produced a super sighting of probably the whole flock together, which has not often happened recently.

Seen near Slamannan I counted 237 birds ranging over a large field. Many of them were in family groups with other adult pairs feeding together.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Update on Bean Goose flock

The bean goose flock have now split into several groups of birds ranging from 17 to 90 birds. Their distribution on the plateau is widespread but still feeding in known areas.

Roosting is also taking place in several locations with the main site at Fannyside Muir well used on most nights.

It has come to my attention that some birdwatchers are stopping and parking in the entrance track to Luckenburn Farm. This is a busy working farm and the farmer requires access for tractors during the daylight hours. It is possible to park on the main road beside the track to Sheilknows and view any geese that may be on the Luckenburn fields.

Please refrain from parking at the Luckenburn farm entrance.

Some birdwatchers have also  been seen trying to approach the bean geese across fields or nearby woodland. I would ask that this practice is refrained from as it only gets birdwatchers a bad name. Bean Geese are very wary birds and any kind of approach can be seen by the birds and they will be spooked.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Update on bean goose flock

A quick visit to the plateau this morning in poor weather conditions found 171 birds at Luckenburn. A search of nearby favourite haunts produced nil birds.

Oh for some nice winter sun to appreciate the colours of the countryside at this time of year.

A nice shot of the upper wing of a bean goose showing the dark plumage.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Update on bean goose numbers and a report from Nature of Scotland Awards in Edinburgh

Some more good field work over the past couple of days has given us more information on the bean goose flock this winter. Around c40 birds have been utilising fields and mires to the eastern section of the study area and we believe the flock total is now nearer c240 birds.

The Nature of Scotland Awards were held in the Sheraton Hotel Edinburgh and organised for the second year running by the RSPB.

The species champion award went to Clive Craik who has been involved in a long term study of Terns in Argyll.

Although not winning the award I am really pleased with reaching the shortlist and thanks must go to Toby Wilson RSPB for nominating me in the first place. Brian Minshull and Neville Makan also sent in a supporting letter.

It was pleasing to hear about our Bean Goose flock being talked about so publicly and in front of such a large audience of conservationists and others.

Good news though for Slamannan Primary School who won a 'Highly Commended Award' in their competition.

Angus at the Nature of Scotland Awards Edinburgh 2013

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Update on flock size this winter

A visit to the plateau yesterday morning and evening confirmed that we have c230 birds present. There may be a few more out there so keep counting if you are looking at the flock.

We had a good view of a pair with 5 goslings yesterday morning at Luckenburn.

Below a picture taken of Charlie Howe with a newly ringed bean goose (06)

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Roost visit information

A visit to see the bean geese coming into roost was successful with c200 birds arriving on Fannyside Muir at 1900hrs.

It was a cold night with temperature showing at 8 deg centigrade. A strong north westerly wind was blowing approx. force 4/5 with intermittent light showers of rain.

Prior to the roost 100 bean geese were recorded at Luckenburn Farm.

Monday, 21 October 2013

News from the Slamannan Plateau

One of our birds may have lost its collar as it is sending out static position information for the past two days. A hunt yesterday produced no real clue other than it would appear the collar has detached itself from the birds neck. I am now looking for an adult male with a white ring on it's right leg.

Saw a flock of 74 at Luckenburn yesterday with another smaller group of 53 today. With the rest of the flock elsewhere it has not been possible to get a full update on the size of the flock this winter.

Got a pleasant surprise today on the plateau when I heard a Green Woodpecker calling. Later it flew off from nearby in the direction of a distant wood. Still no sign of flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing this autumn.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Another interesting day on the plateau

Arrived on the plateau at 0945 this morning and found a flock of c100 bean geese north of Slamannan. Retired to the Cafe in Slamannan for coffee to await Steve (Lilac films) arriving. 

Sat with the car window open and suddenly heard a helicopter flying over the area and immediately thought of the disturbance likelihood for the birds. 

Just as I thought, when Steve and I returned to the spot to film them only to discover that they had moved elsewhere. The hunt was now on to find some others so that the filming could take place.

A quick drive along to Luckenburn found a group of c40 birds which Steve was able to capture on film. We then moved to a quieter spot near East Fannyside Loch to do some interviews. The film should be ready for publication around the end of the year so something to look forward to. 

Tag07 arrived on the plateau around 1500hrs yesterday and had a rest before moving to one of the fields at Luckenburn to feed up after his journey from Yorkshire. He was probably one of a group of c40 birds in the same field this morning but poor light hindered good identification. It is quite possible that this separate group were all with tag 07 during the autumn migration. 

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Tag 07 home after his wanderings around Yorkshire

News just in that Tag 07 was over Edinburgh at midday so should be back on the Slamannan Plateau this afternoon. What a bird. Cannot wait until I get out tomorrow to check up on him.

Had a good Bean Goose Action Group meeting this morning. Plenty of encouraging information from Judy Paul of the RSPB who is working with Greengairs and Slamannan Primary Schools on their bean goose projects.

More wild life filming due for tomorrow. The Forestry Commission are making a film of birds and animals in central Scotland that the public can see if they get out into the countryside. They have included Bean Geese as one of the interesting species that can be seen in the area.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Latest news on the whereabouts of Tag 07

This bird has at last started to work his way north out of Yorkshire but is presently west of Darlington nr Barnard Castle. We still don't know whether he is on his own or part of a larger group of birds.
Not managed out onto the plateau for a couple of days now so no cannot report any sightings to you.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Plenty bean geese to see today

A visit this morning to the plateau started off with nothing being seen but after a visit to Derek Hunter at Luckenburn to thank him for help and cooperation in allowing us to catch the birds on his farm again things changed for the better.
A drive along past Grangeneuk Farm gave me a sight of a flock of geese c50 towards the east. A short drive later I found c90 birds near Easter Jawcraig and later realised that a larger flock of c100 birds was feeding to the south of my position.
Some good collar identification was undertaken allowing me to work out pairs with juveniles in tow. The weather closed in soon after making further observation difficult.
I would reckon that our flock has increased to c200 birds. A call to Larry Griffin on the whereabouts of Tag07 was made to find out that at 2am this morning he was near Barnard Castle. Coming north gradually, what a bird.
I had help from a birder in Yorkshire yesterday who checked out the previous night roost north of Ilkley only to find that no geese were present on a remote reservoir. Great to get such help and cooperation from other like minded people.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Tag07 has made it across the North Sea back to the UK

This amazing bird made a 10 hour flight from Norway to land in Yorkshire. He is moving about around Harrogate/Ripon area so don't know what his plans are. Will he come north to Slamannan and when!

See maps below:

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Further news on Tag07 in Norway

News yesterday indicated that Tag 07 was approaching the SW coast of Norway. This would indicate that he may cross the north sea on Fri/Sat as winds will be favourable. See map below.

Visited the roost site last night to find a very complex situation. Groups of Pinkfeet and smaller numbers of Canada Geese all calling loudly made listening out for bean geese difficult. In the gloom of the evening I reckoned c50 bean geese landed on the small loch at Fannyside whilst the moorland pools were dominated by Pinkfeet and Canada Geese. Would not be surprised given the cold clear night if most of the bean geese stayed out in their feeding areas.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Another day of excitement

We set nets to catch the bean geese on Saturday and spent Sunday waiting. A long wait and at nightfall the birds had failed to enter the catching area. At 7.40pm we set another net so that our chances of catching were increased.
At 9.15am this morning I received a call from Carl Mitchell that a catch had taken place and help was needed to process the 14 birds that had been caught. I arrived on site 15 mins later to find all the sitting quietly ready to be fitted with collars/gsm units. I will add a few pictures to the blog when time permits.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Our winter flock has arrived on cue

A visit to the roost site at Fannyside Muir last night confirmed my thoughts that the birds would take advantage of the easterlies sweeping the North Sea. I was not disappointed.
I arrived around 7pm in the gloaming and found the birds already on the roost area. There were some small flocks of Pinks also in the area adding to the atmosphere. A group of about 40 bean geese seemed to have overshot the site and came back over West Fannyside Loch from the direction of Palacerigg Country Park before joining up on the pools.
It was not possible to estimate the numbers but there was plenty of chattering going on amongst the geese.

I got out this morning before my friend Brian appeared and found c160 birds at Luckenburn. Brian arrived at 10am and after a coffee in the Slamannan Cafe we set out to spend an hour or so looking at what had come in the previous day.

Most birds could not be seen as they were sitting out of site behind the woodland edge of the field I had seen them in earlier. Later they began to appear in our vision and we managed a count of c140 with several collared birds in view. We recorded Tag03 (Green leg ring) and a pair (3X and 6Y). Two other collared birds were present but we were unable to make them out. Several family parties could be identified.

I believe someone this afternoon had a count of 154 which would seem to be about what was probably there this morning.

Friday, 27 September 2013

A false alarm on 24/25th Sep

Tag07 moved south to Denmark and after a fly around several localities has gone back north to the Glomma River site NE of Oslo.
Were others with him on this journey?
Checked out the Slamannan area on the 26th but no bean geese to be seen.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Out birds are on the move again

Latest news from our bird tag 07 indicates it has flown south from Norway and landed in the sea off northern Denmark where the flock visit on their spring migration.

I am sure it will be with others and now awaiting a suitable weather forecast to cross the north sea to Slamannan.

They will soon be back

Sunday, 15 September 2013

More news from Norway

The Oslo Birder Simon has been out once again looking for the Scottish/Swedish Taiga Bean Goose flock. Alarming to hear his story of being confronted by a local farmer who was not pleased to see him because he was looking for geese.
Strikingly similar to Scotland where large goose flocks are not welcomed by the farmers who are losing grazing to them.
Not good to hear that they (farmers) have applied to shoot them as our bean goose flock may well get caught up in this situation.
However the local bird groups have objected and as the area is part of a nature reserve it may mean that shooting will not be allowed.
Another nice picture of Tag07 in flight with a few other geese. Thanks Simon.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

News from Norway

Simon in Norway has been out again exploring the forests looking for the bean goose flock. His exploits in his blogspot are worth reading as it all adds to our understanding of the habitats that these geese are comfortable in.
Their behaviour too is so similar to what we experience here in Scotland during the winter months.

The fields that they use on their arrival have just been cut again for silage but hopefully they will green up in time for their arrival here in approx two weeks time. One field has been reseeded but the grass is growing well in the present weather conditions.

We now a wait their next move, is it south east to the Norwgian coast or south to Denmark?

Friday, 6 September 2013

News from Simon in Oslo about the Scottish (Swedish) Taiga Bean Geese

Just checked out Simon's website (oslobirder.blogspot.co.uk) and see that he has been busy hunting down our flock of bean geese.

He has managed to get a count of 144 birds with 7 of our birds fitted with collars in 2011.
3X male and his mate 6Y,
6X male and his mate 6Z
4Y Male (should have his mate 4Z nearby)
7P Male (should have his mate 4T nearby)
6S Male (mate unringed)

He has also identified GPS tags birds and one with a blue leg ring which was a Juv last year and the number on the collar was 16 (but fitted upside down)

The habit being used on the autumn migration is different from the spring one as Simon explains on his blog about the Glomma river not having sandbanks at this time of year. Therefore the birds have a different staging area to the north.

All fascinating stuff and thanks as Simon says to modern technology.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Further news on Tag07

News has come through that this bird and possibly some others have moved south out of Sweden and are near the Glomma River NE of Oslo where the stop over on the spring migration. At this stage it looks like they are returning to Scotland on the same flight lines.

We are hoping for some information on the flock size from our contact in Norway.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Latest news from Sweden Tag 07

Larry sent a text at the weekend to say that our bird Tag07 has started his migration south but still within Sweden.

It will be interesting to watch the weather this month to see if colder weather in Scandanavia makes the birds commence their autumn movement.

It will be of great interest to see if they use their stopover in Jutland on the way south.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Visited the Plateau this week

Had an evening visit around most of the plateau one evening this week. Was pleased to see that most of the fields are looking good with plenty of fresh grass evident. Harvesting seems to have gone well and the farmers should have a good supply of silage for feeding to their cattle during the winter months.
Saw several Sparrowhawks hunting along roadsides which is always fascinating to watch especially when you are driving behind them.
Concluded my trip with a visit to the Black Loch at Limerigg and I was rewarded with a sighting of the local Osprey hunting over the water at the eastern end of the loch. Still not found out where they are nesting but cannot be too far away.
Our bean geese in Sweden will have gone through their moulting stage and be in preparation for their return to Scotland in October. Another season beckons!!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Fresh news on the Nature of Scotland Awards

I have been informed that the BBC Landward programme wish to interview all of the Species Champion Short Listed candidates for future programmes.

I believe they intend to show one per programme probably before the Awards Dinner in October

What a good opportunity for me to highlight the importance of the Taiga Bean Goose  flock that winter in central Scotland and how we have managed to create a science project for Slamannan and Greengairs Primary Schools.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Nature of Scotland Awards 2013

Received pleasant news yesterday that I have been short listed in this year's RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards under the heading of Species Champion.

Thanks must go to Toby Wilson of the RSPB who sits on the Bean Goose Action Group committee for taking the time to put together my application. I was put forward last year by Brian Minshull et al but was unsuccessful in reaching the final shortlist.

It is really good too to see that Slamannan Primary School who have been working on the Bean Goose Project have also been short listed under the Youth & Education award.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Bean Goose News

After the successful event at Slamannan School yesterday the newspapers are carrying the story today. Below is a link to further good news on the acquisition of the roosting site at Fannyside Muir by the Forestry Commission. This will allow us to manage this area with our partner agencies for the future.


Wednesday, 29 May 2013

News from our project with Slamannan Primary School

Spent the morning at Slamannan Primary School looking and listening what the children in P4 and P5 have been up to this past year with their Bean Goose project.

It was amazing to see what they have put together, pictures, games and lots of technical information on the Bean Geese migration this spring.

They have used all the data downloaded from the GPS units on three of the birds to create maps showing the  route taken from Scotland to Sweden. Their interpretation of the data and how to display it showed a full understanding of what the birds were doing.

It was good to see that they received a special award from the RSPB and both classes received gifts of binoculars from Viking Optics to encourage the children to get out into the countryside and widen their knowledge of our birds and animals.

Mark Steven from the Radio Scotland programme 'Out of Doors' was present and recorded sequences from the presentation given by the children. This programme is normally broadcast on Saturday mornings commencing at 6.30am.

All in all a super morning and good to see the enthusiasm from the children and their teachers for their efforts in studying their local bean goose flock.

Children at Slamammam School displaying their Certificates and Binoculars
with teachers Alistair Findlay, Lorna Murray, with Judy Paul RSPB, Iain Renwick Area Manager,SNH

Friday, 10 May 2013

What happens at home when the bean geese are breeding in Sweden

When the bean geese leave Scotland in late February the work then starts to collate all the available data recorded during the winter when they are here.

There is data to be collated for a Commissioned Report for Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) on the roosting locations that the bean geese have used during the past winter. This work includes ageing the juveniles within the flock. This a continuation of monitoring work commenced in 2010/11. (Commissioned Report No 487)
I am greatly indebted to Brian Minshull of BCM Environmental Services Ltd (BCMESL) who collects all the raw data and produces the report.

The voluntary monitoring of the flock which I undertake for Falkirk & North Lanarkshire Councils and the Central Scotland Forest Trust also requires collecting the available field records and putting together a series of notes to assist with the publishing of this data in an annual report.
I am grateful to Toby Wilson of the RSPB who edits and prepares the report for publication.

The project with Slamannan and Greengairs Primary Schools continues unabated and there is publicity event being arranged for Wednesday 29th May at Slamannan Primary School. This projects includes SNH and the RSPB who have been working with the children this last two years on the 'science' of bean geese wintering in their local area and now looking at the migration data received from the GPS collars on the four bean geese caught last autumn. I look forward to see what they have been doing in recent times.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

News Update on our birds in Sweden

Information from three of our birds in Sweden would indicate that they have settled down to breed. They are in an area surrounded by National Parks the closest being Fulufjallet. Two of the birds are very close to the Norwegian border and also main roads which run through the area. The other is further to the east but in a similar habitat.
Our new website has been up updated and contains all the information on the tagged birds to date. You can access it at -http://scotlandsbeangeese.wikispaces.com/

Monday, 22 April 2013

Update 22 April 2013

Tag 07 seems to be moving about quite a bit before settling down to breed. (see updated locations on website) Tag 03 and Tag 06 have arrived in the same locality away to the northeast. Still no word from
Tag 08. Snow seems to be disappearing fast now in Sweden.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Bean Geese on the move

More news, in the past 24hrs tag07 moved eastwards from his previous position. Tag03 has moved into Sweden from Norway and has gone to the North West of where tag07 first stopped off.

Tag06 has moved north in Norway and hopefully will be in Sweden before long.

These locations are certainly within or near the locations where Bean Geese were released many years ago by Lambert von Essen in conjunction with the Swedish Sportsman's Association.

There is now much speculation here in Scotland as to the various populations of Taiga birds that are breeding in Sweden and wintering south into the low countries, England and Scotland.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

They have arrived!

Just the news we have dreamed about, tag 07 has made the move north into Sweden to what looks like his breeding territory. Battery is in good order and he is within mobile phone range.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Exciting pictures from Norway

Just received two fantastic shots of two of our bean geese taken in flight in Norway. Tag07 with black ring leg and 4Y collar.
Pictures below courtesy of Ketil Knudsen

4Y Ringed as Juv male on 12 Oct 2011 at Slamannan, Scotland

Radio tag 07 ringed Oct 2012 Slamannan, Scotland - Adult male

Update of our Bean Geese in Norway

Fresh news today from Norway would indicate that a large group of our birds have probably made the next part of their migration northwards. Only 70 bean geese seen recently.
We all wait with baited breath to see if they arrive in an area served with a mobile phone network. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Latest news from Norway

Great news this morning that 220 bean geese seen together on the Glomma River. That would look like the bulk of the Slamannan flock have joined up before heading north to breed.

What fantastic ability they have to navigate such distances and recall their well known haunts. Here at home much work is still being done on the Slamannan Plateau field systems so that we can have a really close look at the fields they use compared to the fields that they don't use. Brian Minshull my technical expert has been beavering away for weeks now sorting out all the data collected by us over the past month or so.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Spring Migration

It has been a fascinating few weeks since the Bean Geese flock left the Slamannan Plateau. Firstly one tagged bird with 9 of his pals left for Eyemouth where they settled in a field near the A1.
The very same day as this news came in Brian Minshull was driving north on the A1 and with a bit of modern technology and some old fashioned phone calls he was able to home in and find this small group of birds.

Two days or so later Larry Griffin was telling us that he had picked up a tagged bird just off the coast at St Andrews  It then transpired that this flock of birds didn't like the look of the cloud covered North Sea and headed towards the granite city of Aberdeen before they found some clear weather out over the sea. After a night of rest and a good forecast they set off eastwards towards Scandanavia. Landfall was in northern Denmark where all of the birds eventually met up and remained. Feeding inland and roosting on the sea. ate

The latest news of our birds is that they have arrived in Norway on the Glomma river and no doubt feeding up before their final migratory flight north into Sweden?  Image below courtesy of Simon Rix

Let's hope that they arrive in an area with a mobile phone network so that we can at last find out just where breeding occurs.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

The Slamannan Bean Geese are still on a migratory stopover in Jylland, northern Denmark. The weather has been pretty cold there for the last two weeks with temperatures down to minus 10 degrees C and a biting easterly wind. The geese will make their way north in the next week or so - but where to next? The four satellite tagged birds will hopefully shed light on the timing of their movement and their destination.

This image shows a flock of 180 Slamannan Bean Geese feeding in a cereal stubble north Denmark on 23 March, 2013 (photo Einar Flensted-Jensen).