The latest Icelandic Goose Count (IGC) was carried out on the reserve this morning, with a total of 7,404 Pink Footed Geese counted. Following the trend from previous counts this year the number was lower than expected, and also considerably lower than the count of 22,708 on last year’s corresponding IGC. There were over 10,000 individuals here earlier in the week, but they must still be moving further south pushed on by the cold weather we are experiencing at the moment.
Other sightings on the reserve so far this month have included a Black Throated Diver, seen at Rossie Spit on the first of December and again today (8th of December). The first also saw a Kingfisher, Water Rail and 2 Rock Pipits seen from the Visitor Centre. Tree Sparrow numbers have been good on a daily basis, with 35 counted on the 1st. Today’s sightings have included 33 Scaup, 16 Pintail, 8 Bar Tailed Godwit, 6 Black Tailed Godwit and a Peregrine Falcon. Mammals sightings on the reserve have included an Otter seen at the Bridge of Dun on the 5th and numerous sightings of our resident stoat, still in its brown summer coat, rather hopefully trying to sneak up on rabbits in the centre grounds.
An interesting sighting in the local area this month was a blue-morph Snow Goose, seen initially at Kinnordy Loch on the 30th of November before moving to various locations around Kirriemuir over the last week. Snow Geese are a North American breeding species that are often seen as vagrants in the UK, amongst groups of Barnacle and Brent Geese (although there is also a feral population here in Scotland). The Snow Goose has two colour plumage morphs, the white and blue. The white morphs, the more common of the two seen here in the UK, are completely white apart from black wing tips. The blue morphs, like the one seen in Kirriemuir, have a bluish-grey plumag apart from the head, neck and tail tips, which are white. The two colour phases are genetically controlled, with the dark phase being controlled by the presence of a dominant gene and the white phase by the lack of this gene. Both morphs may interbreed, so are not separate species, but offspring are much more likely to select a mate that’s the same morph as their parents.
Visitor Centre Assistant Manager.