Wild geese take climate action

Posted: September 5, 2019 by oldbrew in climate, Natural Variation, research
Tags: ,

Image credit: Jasper Koster / Phys.org

But is there a twist to this tale? From the research article we learn this:
‘The geese spend the winter and spring on the Solway Firth, United Kingdom. They utilize areas in Norway for spring staging, and breed on the high‐arctic archipelago of Svalbard (Figure 1; Owen & Black, 1999). Recently, a small but increasing number of barnacle geese spend the pre‐migratory period on the Solway before heading directly towards Svalbard (LG, unpublished), which was disregarded in the current study due to a lack of quantitative data.’

Why are they now – apparently at least – staying longer on the Solway (south coast of Scotland) in the spring and bypassing their ‘spring stage’ in Norway? As Dutch researchers asked two years ago: Can barnacle geese predict the climate?
– – –
Migratory animals are actively adjusting their traditions to climate change, new research has found.

An international team of researchers from the University of St. Andrews, with Norwegian, Dutch and British colleagues, found that barnacle geese have shifted their migratory route within the last 25 years, reports Phys.org.

In research published in the journal Global Change Biology, the research team concluded that individual geese have decided to change to the new route, and that other geese now learn the new habit from each other.

The study is among the first to provide hard evidence that wild animals are inventing new traditions to cope with climate change.

The migratory birds, who traditionally fueled up (staged) just South of the Arctic circle in Norway on their journey from the UK to their breeding grounds on Svalbard, now mainly stage in northern Norway far above the Arctic circle.

The conclusions are based on analysis of 45 years of observations by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, the University of St Andrews, the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, BirdLife Norway and the British Waterfowl and Wetlands Trust.

Dr. Thomas Oudman of the School of Biology at the University of St Andrews said: “It makes sense that the birds went even further North, because where snow used to be very common there at the time of their arrival in Norway, these days it is often freshly green there: the most nutritious stage.

“What surprised us is that it is mainly the young geese who have shifted. The youngsters are responding to a trend they could not have experienced during their short life.”

Adult geese are also increasingly shifting north, although they often return to the traditional area in their old age.

Dr. Oudman added: “These patterns point at a complex social system, which enables the geese to rapidly colonize newly available areas.”

Contrary to most other migratory birds, barnacle geese flourish even while their natural habitat is rapidly changing.

Full report here.
– – –
Study: Northward range expansion in spring‐staging barnacle geese is a response to climate change and population growth, mediated by individual experience [open access]

  1. JB says:

    In the next life I’m coming back as a barnacle goose. Honk all I please and other obvious reasons….

  2. hunterson7 says:

    …. Because more people are feeding the geese and fewer people are hunting them.

  3. rogercaiazza says:

    In North America we have this:
    “Migratory Canada geese were once an endangered species, having been hunted nearly to extinction by the early 1960s. In an effort to recover the species and rebuild the population, wildlife agencies throughout the U.S. at both federal and state levels began a program to gather eggs from migratory geese and artificially incubate them throughout the U.S. As a result, these new resident geese had no instinctual imperative to fly to Canada or to leave the region in which they were hatched.” https://animals.mom.me/geese-dont-migrate-6866.html

    I have to wonder if something similar is happening in Europe. By the way, now these resident have become a pest.

  4. oldbrew says:

    Maybe they detected the solar minimum 😎

  5. oldbrew says:

    Re – rogercaiazza says:
    these new resident geese had no instinctual imperative to fly to Canada or to leave the region in which they were hatched.

    And nobody to show them the way.

  6. stpaulchuck says:

    rogercaiazza says:
    September 5, 2019 at 1:39 pm

    …By the way, now these resident have become a pest.
    I live in the Twin Cities and that’s a fact Roger! They are messy birds and their poop is all over the place, especially golf courses. If you have a backyard pool you’d better invest in a cover.

  7. Curious George says:

    I wonder if there are any wind farms on the migration route to Norway.

  8. Gamecock says:

    10-4 on the Canada geese.

    A company location in Delaware had to have people out a 6 AM to clean the goose poop off the sidewalks before employees arrived, for safety.

    I need a wind farm just north of my golf course. I asked a local councilman if I could carry a shotgun on the course. He said, “Sure. But you can’t shoot it.”

    Well, damn.

  9. roger says:

    I live on the Solway and am also a wildfowler, regularly out at dawn and dusk during the season (starting the 1st September until 20th February) for more decades than I care to remember.
    Barnacle geese have been a protected species for over half a century, increasing in numbers from 500 in the Fifties to 75,000 today, and have been fed every day of their stay by the people at the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust on their reserve at Caerlaverock.
    The dates of their arrivals and departures vary every year as do those of the pink footed geese, some of which also breed on Svarlbard, sharing the Solway sands to roost upon, but usually in segregated areas. However the pinks are not fed by the WWF and are a quarry species. Despite being hunted, the pinks have also been increasing, being found in great numbers on the east and west of GB as far south as the Wash.
    Arrival of the pinks seems to depend on a preference for a night time moon phase and a north westerly wind from the direction of Iceland. With Svarlbard being further east it would be unsurprising that they might choose to go first to Norway and then to pick up an easterly to complete their journey to the Solway.
    Another consideration might be the onset of winter in Iceland and Svarlbard respectively, with the pinks occupying the higher ground to nest and feed and Barnacles the more coastal levels, pinks always seem to arrive before the Barnacles, sometimes measured in weeks.
    As for their return, they seem to know when a sufficient thaw has arrived in the Arctic circle and leave coinciding with my discovering that info from the weather details for Iceland on the internet!
    I think the provision of food in copious quantities could cause them to stay on the Solway longer than habitually they might, but the past few years seem to have had later thaws than I previously remember and that could also be a factor.
    I would be disinclined to give credence to anything any scientist put forward having observed and read their methodology over a long life and always found it wanting.

  10. oldbrew says:

    We should keep on observing these geese 😉

    Roger (12:11 pm) – interesting stuff, last sentence is telling. I’m quite often in that part of the world myself, very nice coast and hills – shame about the wind turbines.

  11. Gamecock says:

    Is there much human development around Solway Firth? Google Earth doesn’t show much.

    If there is, light pollution could be the source of non-migratory geese. Geese migration is triggered by reduced length of daylight. Human light sources could prevent the triggering of migration.

  12. roger says:

    The Scottish Solway area most frequented by both species is from Gretna to just west of Dumfries taking in Annan and a few small coastal villages.
    They roost on the sands which rather like Morecambe Bay extend for several miles at low tide offering both safety at night and fresh or brackish water to drink and wash their paddles.
    Dumfries and Galloway is eighty miles east to west and thirty miles south to north and apart from Annan and Dumfries is very sparsely populated, with extensive hills much forested, with the rest only suitable for small areas of barley but mainly for rearing cattle and sheep.
    The barnacles feed mainly on the fine fescues and grasses of the sandy shores while the pinks travel inland to stubble fields and the pastures in the hills.
    The hugely increasing numbers of barnacles nesting on Svarlsbard were reported some time ago to be at the limit of its carrying capacity and could be another reason for changes in behaviour.
    There is also a separate unrelated group of barnacles which live in Holland to take into account.
    Furthermore, barnacle gees can now be found in isolated small groups all over the country, with one group I personally found on Portsea Island among the Brent geese from Greenland which overwinter every year in that location.
    Just two days ago a wildfowler near York heard and then saw a skein of Snow Geese heading south, into the heat. Snow geese live in the high arctic of Canada and Alaska where their numbers despite shooting have escalated into millions and are becoming a big problem. Are they moving into Europe?
    I think these scientists need to get out more before making pronouncements which only serve to indicate their ignorance and unprofessional readiness to make baseless assumptions.

  13. oldbrew says:

    No light pollution in Galloway…

    In November 2009, the International Dark-Sky Association designated Galloway Forest Park as only the fourth Dark Sky Park in the world and the first in the UK.

    But that’s not all. The Galloway Park is really dark – a Gold Tier Dark Skies park. Very few people live in the 300 square miles of forest and hills in the park so nights really are black – apart from the stars!


    That area is a bit further west than where Roger sees the barnacles.

  14. Gamecock says:

    Thanks for detail, Roger.

    Sibley reports occasional sightings of barnacles and pinks on the U.S. east coast down to Chesapeake Bay. Could be dislocated by storms, or dispersion.

    Snow geese are bad news. Scott Leysath says they are edible, but most North American hunters say they are useless. I have seen them on TV shows where they completely cover the sky. The numbers can be staggering.

  15. Paul Vaughan says:

    Magic E-Leaven Root Priming 4 No.1

    “Hear √(Φ-φ) am ROC cue like a hurricccaine….” – Helix

    = (2#)((11(3#)^(2#))^(2#)^(2#)-e^(π√(2+3+5+7+11+13+17)))
    = (2)(396^4-e^(π√(⌊1/JEV⌋+⌊1/SEV⌋+⌊1/UEV⌋+⌊1/NEV⌋)))



    22 = 2+7+13
    18 = 7+11
    10 = 2+3+5
    8 = 3+5

    11 = ⌊11.0696157491918⌋ = ⌊1/(6V-10E+4J)⌋
    5256 = ⌊5256.63940169013⌋ = ⌊1/(-(1387/2)V+(2333/2)E-465J)⌋
    146 = ⌊146.000401793801⌋ = ⌊1/(41V-69E+28J)⌋

    396 = 11*5256/146
    Bookmark this number and review 4 No.1‘s hindsight: 396

    22 = ⌊22.1392314983835⌋ = ⌊1/(3V-5E+2J)⌋
    18 = ⌊18.0145390590912⌋ = ⌊1/(-3V+5E-2S)⌋
    10 = ⌊10.0377971159193⌋ = ⌊1/(-3V+5E-2U)⌋
    8 = ⌊8.9854008763283⌋ = ⌊1/(-3V+5E-2N)⌋

    58 = 22+18+10+8

    Just 4 f(U-N) C R eyes part IT shunning free man dice sun.

    396 = 36*11 = 6*11*6 = 3#*11*3# = 5256*11/146 = 360+36
    396 expressions precede the tip of a nice berg….

    “….and feed ‘Rwell” — xileH

    5256 = 146*36 = 2*2*(1313+1) = 2*(2626+2) = 5252+4 = 365*12*12/5/2 = 360*(11*13+3)/5/2 = 360*73/5 = 2*(260*5*2+260/5/2+2) = 396*146/11

    No Independence 4 U-N Stable Giant Powers

    Deepest ageIT AIshun bot supply in deep end ants.
    2 = (1+2+3+4+6+8+12+24) – (22+18+10+8)
    I = V# – (XI+IX+V+IV)

    U-Necessarily ravaging westerly winds deep plea Mod√(Φ-φ)Phi BRI10 4 better eyes.
    101 = 1313/13
    0.0909090909090909… = 11^(-1)

    PlacID try angular rise bets 4 stable powers UKnow We’ll pass Cal.
    1 = 11^0
    11 = 11^1
    121 = 11^2
    1331 = 11^3
    14641 = 11^4

    What supplion deep mill IT ants?

    1001 = 7*13*11^1 = 13#/5#*11^0
    11011 = 7*13*11^2 = 13#/5#*11^1
    121121 = 7*13*11^3 = 13#/5#*11^2
    1332331 = 7*13*11^4 = 13#/5#*11^3
    14655641 = 7*13*11^5 = 13#/5#*11^4

    Integers AImost transparently markIT supplyin’ dem ant buy intersection with dress 10 code expresshhhhhh! U-N.

    0.617502517514524 = (164.791315640078)*(0.615197263396975) / (164.791315640078 – 0.615197263396975)
    1.00612297704111 = (164.791315640078)*(1.00001743371442) / (164.791315640078 – 1.00001743371442)
    1.59868955949705 = (1.00612297704111)*(0.617502517514524) / (1.00612297704111 – 0.617502517514524)
    0.382651955968535 = (1.00612297704111)*(0.617502517514524) / (1.00612297704111 + 0.617502517514524)
    harmonic of 1.59868955949705 nearest 0.382651955968535 is 1.59868955949705 / 4 = 0.399672389874261
    8.9854008763283 = (0.399672389874261)*(0.382651955968535) / (0.399672389874261 – 0.382651955968535)

    ⌊1/NEV⌋ = 8
    ⌈1/NEV⌉ = 9
    ⌊1/NEV⌉ = 9

    ● “Base systems corresponding to primorials (such as base 30, not to be confused with the primorial number system) have a lower proportion of repeating fractions than any smaller base.”


    Peace 4 Inner Ring of Stable Integers

    “24 is 5-hemiperfect because the sum of the divisors of 24 is
    1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 6 + 8 + 12 + 24 = 60 = 5/2 × 24.”

    “24 is the smallest 5-hemiperfect number”

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