Tag Archives: migration

Goldcrests in the Autumn Garden

Goldcrests are found in Ireland all year, but large numbers of them migrate into and out of Ireland each year in spring and autumn. The largest numbers of them arrive in autumn to escape the extremely cold continental winter temperatures of Scandinavia and Siberia. I tool this video last week showing a goldcrest looking for small insects in the leaves of a cotoneaster tree.  The best views of this handsome but tiny bird can be seen in the second half of the video.

All Saints Day

Halloween has ended and November has begun, bringing us deeper into autumn and closer to winter and our winter visitors have already begun arriving, such as these fast-flying geese which seem to be Greenland White-fronted Geese, the rarest species found in Ireland:

This species has important wintering grounds to the south of Wicklow, in the county of Wexford, on the famous Wexford Slobs, a damp grassland delta area. Because they were flying so quickly it was difficult to be 100% certain of the species, but the only alternative would be Canada Geese which were introduced, but which don’t usually fly across Wicklow in such large formations.¬† There are some bird calls audible as the geese fly in, but these are actually made by crows, however if you listen carefully you can hear the honking calls of the geese near the end of the video.

Keep your eyes peeled for migrating geese, and other winter visitors from the colder lands from the north of Europe and those of Asia..

November Settling In

Every November is different. Some are unseasonably warm and dry. But this year we have a classic example. On Halloween night the temperature was 17 degrees Celsius but it suddenly dropped on November 1 and has been good and cold ever since, with some heavy rain thrown in for good measure. In short, it feels like a real autumn. And now the wildlife is getting in on the act. Three days ago I saw this beautiful sight:

It's not easy to tell here but these are Brent Geese flying inland in formation towards the mountains of Wicklow, possibly making their way to the Blessington Lakes in west Wicklow.
It’s not easy to tell here but these are Brent Geese flying inland in formation towards the mountains of Wicklow, possibly making their way to the Blessington Lakes in west Wicklow.

Geese are, of course, the definitive proof that we are in the darker half of the year as Ireland serves as a wintering-ground for a number of species. One or two geese will stay in parks or on lakes all year, but these are very few in number as Ireland becomes too hot for them in spring and summer. But there are smaller migrations too – in September and October Blackbirds and Robins (and many other birds) seem to disappear from gardens but this is largely because they are migrating. Then new ones appear. Right now birds are arriving in gardens to feed on berries on the shrubs and trees.

A handsome male Blackbird feeding on the few remaining berries in the topmost canopy of a rowan tree, which is also known as the mountian ash.
A handsome male Blackbird which has come to feed on the few remaining berries in the topmost canopy of a rowan tree, which is also known as the mountian ash.

However, wherever there are still flowers blooming there will be a few bees around to collect their nectar on the few sunny afternoon hours.

A Honey Bee collecting nectar from a saucer-sized cosmos, a popular garden flower which is found in meadows in Europe but not in Ireland... yet.
A Honey Bee collecting nectar from a saucer-sized cosmos, a popular garden flower which is found in meadows in Europe but not in Ireland… yet. The pollen sacs on her legs are swollen with pollen, probably because the hover flies have largely disappeared¬† with the onset of cold weather and aren’t around to compete with the bees. There are also, of course, fewer bees, so more work and pollen for those remaining.