Sunday, 28 December 2014

News from a cold and frosty Slamannan

After a week of sunshine in the Canary Islands it was a shock to arrive back in Edinburgh on Friday night to a temperature of 1 degree c.

A trip to the plateau on Saturday afternoon found all of the bean geese in and around the Garbethill area.

There must have been a bit of disturbance too as the birds were seen in the air on several occasions over a period of hours. Eventually they all headed for Beam Farm to feed before their roost flight to Fannyside or Darnrig.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

News update from the Slamannan Plateau

A milder day of weather was welcome after the icy blasts of the last week.

Found a nice flock of 47 bean geese NW of Slamannan and another group of 58 birds much further west. They were well hidden and not easy to find.

A roost count last Friday evening produced very few birds going to roost at the usual times of one hour after dusk. There was quite a bit of snow on the ground so birds sat out late before moving. The flock of 134 I was watching looked as though they would spend the night in the field but a check before dawn on Saturday morning proved that they had actually moved elsewhere during the night. Only 9 geese arrived at East Fannyside Loch on the same night.

No further news from Denmark about any of our birds being seen there.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Latest News - from Central Scotland - Bean Geese

The sun shone today and after a frosty start I was off to find the bean geese flock. I had found them yesterday in the northern sector of the study area, so had a good idea they would be back there today.

I wasn't disappointed. I had just arrived when 48 beans came past me in flight near to Castlecary High Wood. They flew west for 1/4 mile and then wheeled around and came back just in time to meet another flock of c40 birds who had followed them from further east probably Beam Farm or Tippetcraig. It was a lovely spectacle and with little wind their vocalising was a delight to hear.

On the field below there was already c100 birds so when they joined up it was a super sight to see so many geese after a few miserable days of seeing nothing.

A chap and his wife from the Chilterns who had arrived yesterday to see the flock, arrived a little later and were rewarded by having super views of the geese. I was pleased for them considering the distance they had come.

There were eight birds with collars in the flock which I was able to read today. See pictures of two of them below. 7Y adult male ringed 7th October 2013 and his mate 7Z ringed on the same day and date.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

News update on the whereabouts of our bean geese.

I was out today in lovely sunshine looking for bean geese but came home empty handed as they all seemed to have found the most secluded spot on the plateau in which to feed.

It has been a  rather dreary past couple of weeks with easterly winds bringing in a lot of low cloud and mist which has made viewing difficult.

At the Fannyside roost area last night less than 100 birds came in from the north, with most settling on the large loch and the others going on to the muir pools.

On a more positive note it was nice to see some nice groups of Fieldfare and Redwing all showing well in the sunny conditions.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Latest News from Slamannan

After spending a week feeding near Slamannan the bean geese flock have now moved to feed in the northern fields of the study area.

Dawn and dusk flight have confirmed this change. Much of this area is not visible to monitor so numbers of birds in the sub groups are unknown.

A large flock of Pinkfeet c160 birds that were present near Slamannan have also now moved away.

For several days last week 5 Whooper Swans were present beside the River Avon at Hillend Farm.

They are liable to be chased away by the landowner/farmer as was noted one day last week. Being birds of habit they moved back to feed in the same field the following day.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Update on the Slamannan flock of Bean Geese

This past week has seen c150 birds feeding NW of Slamannan, with the rest of the flock further to the north of the area.

We now reckon we have about 212 birds this year but hopefully we will  get an accurate count in due course.

Roosting is still occurring at the Fannyside Lochs area.

A female Hen Harrier was seen on Garbethill Muir recently, a rare visitor these days as wintering birds have been scarce for some years now.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Latest News from Slamannan

With the bean geese arriving later than normal on the Slamannan Plateau they have not spent their usual period on the arrival fields but have already moved away and are now split into at least two flocks. One flock is NW of Slamannan and the larger group out to the north of the study area.

We have been able to download a lot of information from tags on two birds this winter and at present this is being analysed.

I attach a photo of the migration flight of one bird from Norway to Scotland this autumn. It shows how the birds can land in the sea overnight and continue their passage the following day.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

News update from Slamannan

What a day yesterday. Weather cold, clear, calm and even a bit of sun pm to warm us up.

We had a visit by Brian Minshull, Mike Thornton and Jessica Shaw from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) who were keen to see the flock and familiarise themselves with the area that the birds winter in. All of this was achieved and much more. Especially when Larry Griffin (WWT) arrived in the afternoon to look for two geese that had collars he could download information from.

We had 158 bean geese plus two Juvenile Pinkfeet in one flock with others elsewhere. As the day progressed towards dusk we split into two groups to record roosting behaviour. At Fannyside we saw the flock of 158 birds come into East Fannyside Loch in two group well after dusk. About the same time Larry and Mike reported a flock of 51 flying to roost at Darnrig where they were later found in amongst quite a large number of Pinkfeet. Larry with some assistance has been able to download information from two birds which has given us fantastic information on their wanderings here plus Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Our winter total has now reached 209. Hopefully there is still time for others to come in and increase the flock size.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Recent News on the Slamannan Bean Goose flock.

A flock of c61 birds were seen on Monday 20 October. This would indicate an arrival the previous day (Sunday 19th).

The following day there had been a large increase with 179 birds being seen. Seven birds with collars were identified and many juveniles too.

This is definitely a late arrival date for our flock and may well be due to climate change or inclement weather for the crossing of the North Sea.

However they all look in good fettle and with probably two sub groups coming together there was a fair amount of squabbling among themselves.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Recent News from Sweden

Here is report from Thomas Heinicke who has been monitoring our flock of bean geese in Sweden and Denmark.

I am grateful to Thomas for allowing us to share his records from Sweden on 15th October 2014.

visit to lake Brosjön area on 15.10.14

- found the flock at the fields SE of Huggenäs kyrka (coordinates:59.129348, 13.022927): about 70 birds (09:10) at cereal stubble, couldn't read neckbands because of disturbance

- re-found the flock at fields near Jonrönninge (coordinates: 59.113611,13.003075): 84 birds (09:50) at cereal stubble; found the following neckbands: V3+V6+7T, 7Y+7Z, 1 transmitter (whitish), 1 transmitter (greyish)

- birds were back at lake Brosjön at 10:50; found 39 at lake Brosjön(59.193426, 13.012941) with neckbands V6, 7T, 7Z, 7Y, 1 transmitter (greyish),then another 37 birds at flooded grassland N of the lake (59.198141,

13.017126), following neckbands: V3, 7X, 1 transmitter (whitish)

This type of information from Scandinavia gives us lots of information on the movements of the Slamannan flock when they are not with us.

I notice too in Simon's blog from Norway today that snow has arrived near his area and he talks of movements of wintering Thrushes.

Perhaps if the cold weather continues we may get some bean geese crossing to Scotland soon.

Friday, 17 October 2014

News update from Slamannan

A visit to the plateau yesterday produced a sighting of a small family party of bean geese. Two adults with a juvenile in tow was a pleasing site after days of wondering when any beans would turn up.

I had a quick look around again today but the family party were not in the same place. It is interesting that there is no sign of winter Thrushes either this autumn. Perhaps a milder autumn in Scandinavia has kept them all in their breeding territories.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

News update from Slamannan

Sadly no bean geese have been seen so far this winter. We had a report recently from Denmark where one of our birds was seen in a flock of 154 bean Geese.

I plan to visit the roost area tonight to see if the easterly winds we are having will help our birds cross the North Sea.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

News Update on Bean Goose flock at Slamannan

The bean goose flock has still not put in an appearance this winter. I have looked every day recently but to no avail.

I will check again tonight at the roost area and hope that the c2,000 Pinkfeet does not deter the bean geese from coming into their usual roost.

Today on the plateau was lovely and warm with little wind. Nice views of the local Buzzard at Fannyside Mill and a nice female Sparrowhaw hunting near Grangeneuk Farm.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Bean Goose Search Tuesday 27th September 2014

Visited the Slamannan Plateau this morning to finds the fields at Luckenburn very quiet with no geese present.

Spoke with one of the local farmers and his son whose property adjoins one of the fields that the geese use at this time of the year. Ian (the son) has heard some geese recently flighting overhead but unable to identify them. I saw a small flock of Pinkfeet (30) at Gardrum Moss yesterday along with a few Canada Geese.

News today from North Ronaldsay of a flock of bean geese in flight over the islands. Perhaps making their way south.

Plan to visit the plateau again tomorrow at dawn.

Light easterlies this afternoon so fingers crossed that something may occur.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Bean Goose searching

With a spell of settled weather there is always the possibility that our bean geese will arrive on the plateau. However I have been out the past couple of days and there is no sign of them at Luckenburn. One of the locals has heard geese flying over his house but was not able to identify them.

At the weekend I was in Galloway at the WatsonBirds festival in St Johns Town of Dalry. There were two excellent presentations from Dutch birders on the migration of Raptors from Europe down into Africa.

Roy Dennis from Moray also gave a superb presentation on why it is necessary to use telemetry methods to follow the life of our Golden Eagles in Scotland.

On the way home traveled down the west side of Loch Ken and was rewarded by the sight of many Red Kites and the odd Buzzard. Just think of what it would be like to have Red Kites on the Slamannan Plateau. Perhaps one day!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Update on Bean Geese Autumn Migration 2014

Just had a look at Simon's blog and see that our flock of c160 birds are still with him in Norway.
I had planned to have a trip to the plateau this morning to check on any arrivals but I think that is unlikely although we have had easterly and south easterly winds this past few days. However with that direction of wind in the north sea you get low cloud and rain so most unlikely our geese will have found that suitable to move in our direction.

The bean goose action group have a meeting on Friday of this week to discuss future monitoring and telemetry work. The past three years has given us lots of information and it is now time for us to sit down and assess which direction we should move in with future research. Funding for such work is important and no doubt we will have to be thinking of where such funding can be obtained.

My visit to Glasgow recently to talk to the Glasgow SOC group was very enjoyable and nice opportunity to meet some old friends. There was a good size audience who were appreciative of my talk on the Slamannan Bean Goose flock.

Monday, 8 September 2014

News update on the Slamannan flock

Pleased to report some news from Simon in Norway.

He has been out recently looking for our bean geese and located a flock of 163 birds north of Oslo in the staging area that he located last autumn.

He has been able to take some shots of this flock and they can be seen on his blog.

Also some news from Thomas Heincke that some of our birds have been seen in Sweden at Lake Brosjon.

I was out on the Slamannan Plateau this morning for a look around and saw no early arrivals. Overnight I heard Pinkfeet coming through central Scotland so a movement from Iceland has taken place. I believe there are Pinks now at Aberlady. Always a good place at dawn/dusk to see the spectacle. Montrose Basin have also probably got Pinks there now.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Bean Goose talk in Glasgow 8th September 2014

I have been invited to speak to the Glasgow Group of the Scottish Ornithologists Club in Glasgow University on this date.

I will speak about the ringing and migration of the Slamannan flock between 2011-2013 which include photographs taken on catch days. I will also include maps and pictures which will show just how much information we have gleaned over the past three years about the various routes that the birds take when flying between Scotland and Sweden.
There have been some real surprises in just what some of these geese get up to and I'm sure all birders will gain a great insight to our rarest wintering goose.

Hope to see you in Glasgow.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

News update

Brian Minshull returned safe after his trip to see the bean geese in Norway. He and Simon Rix the Oslo Birder (picture below) spent two days hunting down the Slamannan flock. Unfortunately by early April most of our birds had gone north to Sweden but they managed to trace some of our birds well to the north of Oslo. (see picture below)

Brian had a great tale to tell of birding in Norway and something that anyone can do with the help of Simon Rix who specialises in bird guiding trips (see for more information .

Whilst I was sunning myself in Puerto Pollensa, Brian and Simon were trudging around in rain and even snow hunting such species as Hazel Hen and Tengmalm's Owl plus many other northern species.

Bean Geese north of Oslo
Simon Rix

Sunday, 13 April 2014

News Update on Tag06 13th April 2014

Tag06 has now moved into the bean geese breeding area in Sweden. It can now probably be assumed that all of the Slamannan flock are on their breeding territories.

Brian Minshull has returned from his trip to see the bean geese in Norway. More on this topic when I get an opportunity to speak to him on his experience of birding with Simon Rix.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Fresh Update on Tag 06 and 07

Fresh news in recently would indicate that our bean geese have moved north from their previous feeding and roosting area north east of Oslo.

Simon the Oslo birder is of course in Eilat Israel enjoying a birding break in the sunshine. Check out his blog ( to see what he is doing.

He is probably wondering about the bean goose flock also and what they are up to.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

News from Simon Rix in Oslo

Simon has had a busy day in and around the Glomma River trying to count and read neck collars on the Slamannan flock of taiga bean geese.

His blog ( gives a very good account of his activities and he has produced some lovely pictures of the birds he has been seeing.

Tag 06 has arrived from Sweden to join the flock but it is not always easy to find him. I attach a picture of it when caught for ringing.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

News from Sweden today

Had an email from Ulf Skyllberg in Sweden today and he informs me that a flock of around 110/15 bean geese have been seen south west of Karlstad and some have neck collars relating to the Slamannan flock.

He also says that locals have been looking at a flock of bean geese over many years at this location so it would appear that we now have two staging posts outwith Denmark.

We now have the bean goose website updated by Carl Mitchell so super to see the migration routes of Tag06 and tag07 and all the others who have accompanied them

I love the pictures taken by Simon of the bean geese north east of Oslo. See

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Fresh news update from Norway

We have news in today that Simon and a friend Thomas have been out looking at the bean goose flock NE of Oslo nr the Glomma River.

They counted 151 bean geese during a 2 hour observation and managed to count 9 collars plus what we think would be Tag07 with his juvenile family.

We have in place a super communication system with Larry Griffin (WWT) sending out fresh download information to Simon (Oslo Birder) so that he can chase about looking for the geese.

Below is a new picture taken recently in Denmark courtesy of Larry Griffin (WWT)  of the Slamannan flock feeding in a winter grain crop.

Friday, 14 March 2014

News update from Simon in Oslo

Reading Simon's blog reminds me of what we face here in central Scotland during the wintering period that the bean geese are here.

He is searching known fields and finding nothing and then by chance or GPS information locates the bean geese in new fields.

In his recent post I particularly like his shot (picture) of the bean geese in the middle of a bog area where they are resting/loafing which is so familiar to us here in Scotland.

Tag06 seems still to be in Denmark so whether he is still on his own or has now joined up with some others time will tell.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

News from Norway

Some of our bean geese including tag 07 have now arrived in Norway north east of Oslo and on the Glomma River system. Tag06 is still apparently in Denmark but now on the west coast after a visit to the east coast. Simon Fox ( is now out and about looking for our flock and he will be reporting back on his sightings. Visit his blog if you wish as he will be updating it on a regular basis.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Fresh Update from Denmark

Have had a report of a flock of 180 bean geese with many of our collared birds among them.

A flat featureless area making observations difficult. A bit like a lunar landscape according to reports.

Tag 04 below seen in Denmark and information downloaded from his collar which will reveal his wintering forays on the Slammanan Plateau during this past winter.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

News update on Tag06

Received news this morning that our lonely bean goose (tag06) was half way to Denmark at 1200hrs yesterday.

What an amazing piece of navigation on his own. Can't wait to see the maps from Denmark to confirm he has joined the rest of the flock.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Great News today from Norway

Got a phone call today to confirm that Tag06 who had been left behind on the Slamannan Plateau for a few days on his own has surfaced in south west Norway.

His flight details will probably appear on our website - in due course.

It will be interesting to see if he waits and heads for the Glomma river area or diverts to Denmark to meet up with the rest of the flock who are there.

Life is never dull when watching bean geese

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Migration Update on Taiga Bean Geese - Slamannan flock 25th February 2014

News has come in that part of our flock have been seen in northern Denmark by Thomas Heinicke (see below)

I made a counting/neckband reading trip to NW Jylland yesterday (23.2.14).
I visited Lundergard Mose (15:40) and found a flock of
98 Taiga Beans feeding on winter wheat. In this flock I found 10 grey
neckbands (7P, 7U, 3Y, 6Y, 6X, 6S, 6Z, 7X, 7V, 6U) and 5 birds with
transmitters/loggers at the neck (but no chance to read inscriptions of


Exciting news once again that the Slamannan birds have again made landfall in Denmark. 

The 5 birds that Thomas refers to will surely be Tag07 and his brood of four.

Tag06 was still on the plateau lunchtime yesterday but wasn't found pm in the area. Weather looks good today so won't be surprised that if the rest of the flock go or have already gone.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

News on the Slamannan flock of Taiga Bean Geese

Participated in a dusk roost count today with Brian Minshull. Weather was dull and misty with little wind which was good for listening to incoming flocks of bean geese.

I counted 23 bean geese coming to roost a East Fannyside Loch at 1800hrs which was 1/2 hour after dusk.

Brian further to the east at Darnrig counted a total of 60 Bean Geese and 2 Canada Geese.

These numbers may well indicate that some of our birds have already left us for Denmark. Hopefully if this has occurred we will get some information from two of our birds with GPS tags attached.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Roost visit Fri 7th February 2014

I had located a flock of 80 bean geese at Strathaven prior to roost tonight so returned to the area to check on their roost location.

Fortunately I met up with farmer Jim Brown of Greencraig who was just setting out to return some sheep to the same area. Knowing that the geese would be disturbed I re-arranged my location to watch the disturbance take place and observe just where the 80 birds would re-locate to.

I drove to a spot west of the goose field and waited in the dimming light at 1730hrs. Sure enough on the approach to where the bean geese were, Jim's tractor and trailer spooked them and they took flight in the direction of Darnrig Moss where they would most likely settle for the night.

I then drove to Fannyside to watch for the rest of the bean goose flock flighting into the area to roost. At 1800hrs in the gloom I was rewarded by a spectacular vocal flight of 150 bean geese flying overhead and alighting onto East Fannyside Loch. Such events are truly wonderful to behold and make all the effort in monitoring this rare flock of  geese worthwhile.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Recent News on the Bean Geese flock.

I visited the plateau earlier this week and managed to locate two groups of birds. Both groups were located to the north of Slamannan, one of c60 birds and a smaller group of c24 birds.

The bean geese continue to feed far and wide within the study area utilising the available grassland pastures.
It has been noted recently that some birds are feeding in amongst the juncus in some fields and not venturing into the open. It is almost like they are aware that if they stay hidden from view they can feed on the grass that is available without being disturbed.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

9th January 2014 Update on the Bean Goose flock

A visit to the Slamannan Plateau today found three groups of bean geese totaling 211 birds.

This is the highest count of bean geese for some time and it is nice to see that they are all looking well and surviving the winter gales and rain.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Early January update

Strong winds and heavy rain has made recording of the bean goose flock difficult in the past week.

However a run around part of the plateau today found three separate groups of birds. A small one of 8 birds nr Bandominie Farm. A larger group of 59 nr Fannyside and one of 34 birds at Wester Jaw.

Light was poor and I was unable to read any collars yet again.