I was pleased to see the Brent Geese back in their usual winter spot on the rock pools on the West Beach. A small group of these birds return to Nairn every winter; to exactly the same spot, alongside the Nairn Golf Course.
From what I can tell this is the only spot on the Moray Firth that the Brent feed over the winter; so what is it that attracts them back year after year? The group is always a small one; the most I have seen is around 60. On Friday I counted 35. They find plenty to keep them occupied along the coastline and are far enough away from the dog walkers to be too bothered.
It may be a bit sad and anoraky of me, but I was really excited when I saw them yesterday! I thought they decided to ignore Nairn this winter! So keep your eye out for them as you walk along the shoreline, particularly at low tide. They are one of the easier geese to identify, although with their black and white features, they could be confused with Canada Geese. These birds are smaller than Canada Geese and have a very tell-tale white spot on their neck to really give them away.
On the subject of identification of geese: I find that grey geese are very difficult to get to grip with. Pinkfoot or Greylag? Well, the 1,000 or so geese in the field near the airport are Greylag. The best way to tell is the size and colour of the head and neck; but if you do not have a telescope to hand to help spot the difference, just listen to the call. The Greylag honks like a farm goose! The Pinkfoot has a more delicate ‘wink wink’ sound.
By the way, I notice that a small flock of Dunlin (or are they Knot?!) are resting on the sandbar at the harbour along with the Redshank. They make for a great display when they all set off at the same time; flashing grey and white as they twist and turn in low flight.
Here's to a health 2011 and plenty of happy bird watching!