The Brent are back! Strangford Lough's iconic species the Light-bellied Brent goose has once again returned after their long migration. Around 50 birds were first spotted on Wednesday last week, and since then there numbers have been growing. A couple hundred birds at least have been seen on the North end of Strangford Lough since.
At the close of the breeding season at the beginning of August, the birds began their journey from Arctic Canada, to Greenland, Iceland and finally Northern Ireland. All those strong North-Westerly winds last week would have greatly helped carry the birds on the last leg of their journey here to Strangford Lough.
Around 90% of the worlds population of Light-bellied Brent stop at Strangford Lough after their journey from the Arctic. Strangford Lough is filled with their favourite food, Eelgrass. A type of seagrass that lives in estuaries, where sand is covered at high tide but exposed at low tide. Which makes Strangford Lough perfect for this plant and therefore perfect place for the Brent! Many will stop, gorge themselves on the Eelgrass and the move around the rest of the British Isles and European Coastlines to wait out the winter. But many birds spend their whole winter here on the mudflats of Strangford Lough. Their numbers will peak in their thousands towards the middle of October, so get out the the Brent hide to view one of Northern Ireland's greatest nature spectacles in the coming weeks.
Count was taken at High tide this morning.
Estuary - visible from the Brent Hide and the Limekiln Observatory
Curlew 48, Black-headed gull 31, Little Egret 2, Teal 6, Gadwall 1, Mallard 12, Eider 6, Brent Geese 91, Redshank 5, Swallow 1
Main lake - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor centre
Mallard 90, Tufted duck 3, Gadwall 7, Shoveler 3, Teal 6, Moorhen 1, Coot 1
Shingle Bank - visible from Sensory garden and Visitor centre
Mallard 82, Gadwall1, moorhen 1, Black-headed gull 1, Jackdaw 1
Wadermarsh - visible from Wadermarsh lookout and Brent Hide
Moorhen 7, Black-headed gull 1, Oystercatcher 6
Freshwater Lagoon - visible from Brent Hide and Crannog
Black-tailed Godwit 7, Mallard 32, Gadwall 1 Moorhen 2, Coot 2, Teal c.50, Goldeneye 1
Saline Lagoon - visible from Limekiln observatory
Little Grebe 4, Little Egret 8
Goldfinch c.30, Linnet 1
Little Egret 1
Peninsula field and Saltmarsh
Starling 3, Meadow pipit 1
Blackbird, Wren, Dunnock, Magpie, Jackdaw, Robin, Blue tit, Great tit, Coal tit, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Wood pigeon
Painted Lady, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Common Blue, Speckled Wood, Green-veined White, Small White