A long and arduous journey to a distant land, far beyond the misty mountains… but now returned safely to familiar surroundings. The first of the Brent geese have arrived back in Dublin Bay after their summer sojourn in Arctic Canada, and flocks will soon be seen making daily visits to parks and open spaces across Dublin.
Upwards of 30,000 Brent geese winter in Ireland, though a few venture as far south as France and Spain. Some birds are caught and ringed each year for research purposes; thankfully these particular rings don’t make them invisible.
At full tide, and with the right weather, the lagoons between the Bull Island and the coast are indeed blue. Shortly after the island was declared Ireland’s first bird sanctuary in 1931, a plan was hatched to maintain a Blue Lagoon at all tide levels and develop the island for tourism, though it never took off.
At low tide, one reason for the island’s 1981 designation as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, extended in 2015 to all of Dublin Bay, becomes clear. As mud.
Formerly inhabited by the native red squirrel, St. Anne’s Park now has a large population of the invasive grey squirrel instead, an increasingly common problem in most of Ireland. At least one novel approach to reducing the number of grey squirrels has been proposed.
In the middle of winter, finding food is a full-time occupation for all of Dublin’s wildlife, whether native, introduced or recently arrived.