Fox, Anthony David3; Merne, Oscar J2; Walsh, Alyn J.2; Norriss, David W.2; Wilson, H. John2
1 Department of Bioscience - Wildlife Ecology, Department of Bioscience, Science and Technology, Aarhus University2 Irish National Parks and Wildlife Service3 Department of Bioscience - Wildlife Ecology, Department of Bioscience, Science and Technology, Aarhus University
Count data have shown that numbers of Greenland White-fronted Geese Anser albifrons flavirostris wintering at their numerically most important site (Wexford Slobs in south east Ireland) have remained more or less constant over 30 years, in contrast to recent declines at their second most important site (Islay further north in south west Scotland), and declines in the population as a whole. There was no evidence to suggest a northwards shift in wintering geese as might be predicted under global climate change. Although Greenland White-fronted Geese now depart from Wexford in spring on average 22 days earlier in 2012 than they did in 1969, departure date did not significantly correlate with winter or spring temperatures. However, the degree of accumulation of fat stores accurately predicted departure date at Wexford, showing improved body condition was responsible for the advancement in migration timing. The more rapid advancement of spring migration at Wexford compared to elsewhere in the range and the retention of wintering geese there in contrast to declining trends amongst the population as a whole suggest that local management of the food resource at Wexford may be responsible for retaining wintering geese there, as well as improving their body condition to support their earlier departure in recent years.