Islay Goosefest

It's the time of year that the geese arrive on Islay from northern parts of Europe and stay until April next year. A friend of ours, Teresa from Islay Wildscapes, is on her way to Islay at this very moment to witness the spectacle of the arriving geese. We will follow her in a week and hopefully see a lot of geese arriving ourselves as well. The geese are an important reason for people to visit the island in the wintertime. Today I found an interesting report called Islay Goosefest from a couple of guys from Leicestershire who visited the island on the first days of January 2004. In the quote below you can read what makes it so special to travel to Islay in the winter to watch the geese and they also have some pictures online as well. Continue reading.....

An 05.45 alarm leaves us wishing that we had consumed a couple less pints the previous evening, but luckily it’s only a ten-minute ride to the ferry landing at Kennacraig on the west shore of the Kintyre Peninsular. In the pitch-blackness the large ferry is an imposing sight, bedecked in an array of lights and towering high above the quay.... The next destination for the afternoon is Loch Gruinart, a large sea loch located on the north shore of the island and just ten minutes drive from Bowmore along lanes that wind through the scenic lowlands. En route we stop for our first flocks of Greenland White-fronted Geese which seem to prefer areas of coarse grass and juncas as their favoured feeding. Remaining in the cover of our car we get fantastically close to the grazing birds, magnificent geese in all respects. The last hour of daylight is spent scanning through thousands more Barnacle Geese which are now congregating around the margins of Loch Gruinart prior to going to roost on the mudflats of the shallow loch.

The next day: The sun has not yet risen but the scene, lit by an early morning glow from the eastern horizon, is unforgettable. In the bottom of a shallow valley nestles a large pool surrounded by tall brown juncas. A thin covering of mist veils the still water on which move the dark outlines of around four hundred Greenland Whitefronts which have spent the night in the safety of their favoured roosting site. The birds become more vocal and active as the day brightens and then suddenly take to the air in a huge group, flying off to the east and their chosen feeding grounds for the day.

The spectacle of a winter trip to Islay, of vast numbers of wild geese in the most beautiful and remote of settings is undoubtedly one of the British natural history experiences. It is often said that visitors to Islay always long to return to it’s magical shores. I know we will be back.

Up-to-date information on the Geese is available at Islay Birding News

Tag: wildlife report geese winter birding

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