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Greenland geese tracked on their migration journey; RSPB CymruDanny Wyn.

You may remember our column back in February about the tagging of two Greenland white-fronted geese on the Dyfi Estuary.

Shortly afterwards, these majestic birds undertook an amazing journey as they flew from the Dyfi Estuary, setting off on a Sunday night in April and reaching staging grounds in Iceland by the Monday night.

We've now come full circle from when they were first tagged, as these wonderful birds start to arrive back on the Dyfi Estuary for the winter.

Having tracked the tagged birds throughout the summer, the data gathered by the Welsh Greenland White-Fronted Goose Partnership unearthed a lovely story. Having left Iceland for Greenland at the beginning of May, the geese spent the summer in their homeland before journeying back to a staging post in Iceland.

The data from the tags shows us that one bird - WHIT01 by her scientific tagging name - is known to have sat patiently on a nest in Greenland for roughly four weeks.

This indicated she had successfully bred, and towards the end of summer confirmation came, as WHIT01 was located in Iceland with four beautiful goslings.

Although our second goose, WHIT02, had initially settled down on a nest, she seemingly gave up after around a week, suggesting her breeding attempt was sadly unsuccessful this year.

We've been able to gather this vital data thanks to PS24,000 worth of funding from Welsh Government.

In 2016 we were able to start taking crucial steps to protect the Greenland white-fronted goose's future in Wales, as the partnership oversaw a tagging process to discover where the geese were foraging and roosting while with us on the Dyfi.

We are ecstatic with the data gathered so far, and we've also picked up on some quirky behaviours. We've discovered that the Dyfi flock stay together in Wales, but seem to split up as soon as they leave.

We've also found that our tagged geese have developed a fond friendship with tagged Greenland whitefronts from Scotland.

Both groups staged together on the south coast of Iceland, setting up camp just fields apart, as friendly neighbours.

We found the geese's preferred breeding habitat in Greenland looks similar to higher ground in Wales. The habitat has rolling hills and freshwater bodies, and the main vegetation is dwarf willow.

We recently discovered that 11 white-fronts had already been spotted on the Dyfi by November 3, with five of them being young, while data showed one of the tagged birds, WHIT01, was also back on the estuary as of November 6, with goslings. We're still eagerly awaiting the arrival of our second tagged bird.

The data gathered so far has been essential in our hope of discovering more about these outstanding migrating birds.

Yet there is still much to discover in order to safeguard a bright future for Greenland white-fronted geese in Wales.

We cannot wait to find out what further surprises our tagged birds have in store for us in the coming months.

| Alongside RSPB Cymru, the Welsh Greenland White-Fronted Goose Partnership includes the Welsh Government, the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Mick Green, Natural Resources Wales, the British Association for Shooting & Conservation and the Dyfi, Mawddach and Dysynni Wildfowlers Association.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EXIC
Date:Nov 14, 2017
Words:532
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