Brent goose numbers are building with nearly 14,000 on the Lough on 14 September. These numbers of geese are not usually seen until later in September.
As large family groups have also started to arrive early it appears that the brent may have had a good breeding season in the arctic and have been fit enough to migrate early while taking advantage of the recent northerly air stream.
This week also saw the arrival of the first flock of whooper swans to Castle Espie –a species that we wouldn’t usually expect until October. Nine whooper swans landed on the Main Lake on 20 September with a further four gliding in the following day.
Other WWT centres at Caerlaverock in Scotland and Welney in Norfolk have also reported record-breaking early arrivals of whoopers.
Weather conditions can have a dramatic impact on migratory birds. These swans will have travelled 1,200 miles from their breeding grounds in Iceland, including an ocean crossing of 700 miles.
With their North Atlantic crossing taking almost 13 hours, flying at 55 mph they, too, will have taken advantage of tail winds to help them on their journey.
Recent observations of whooper swans suggest that 2011 was a poor breeding season for them – perhaps due to the very adverse conditions during the Spring in Iceland where the whooper were breeding under the shadow of the ash cloud from Iceland’s Grimsvotn volcanic eruption.
With the arrival of the migrants Castle Espie Wetland Centre has lots of special events lined up during October to welcome them back. Visit our events pages to see what will be taking place.