For forty years wildfowling clubs, which manage all shooting on the estuary through a permit scheme, have monitored Greenland white-fronted geese and protected them by enforcing a no-shooting rule. The global population of Greenland white-fronted geese has been in decline in recent years, due mainly to pressure on their breeding grounds in Greenland.
A new goose recording form is being distributed with every Dyfi estuary shooting permit. The information gathered by wildfowlers will add to international recording projects and help inform future management of the over-wintering population in Wales. It will also improve records and knowledge of a range of other species.
Michael Sherman, vice-chairman of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and a member of the Dyfi Wildfowl Management Advisory Panel, said: “The new observation and recording project will help to collate sightings of Greenland white-fronted geese on and around the Dyfi estuary. Collecting this information will help us learn more about the feeding and roosting habits of the birds. With the support of the Welsh Government that information will help inform future management of the land on which the birds depend before making their return journey in the spring to breeding grounds in Greenland.”
BASC’s policy development manager Dr. Conor O’Gorman said: “The conservation effort started by wildfowlers on the Dyfi estuary in the 1970s, and continued with the same passion today, is an inspiring story and a great example of practical conservation led by local people. A partnership of wildfowlers, farmers and landowners supported by statutory and non-statutory bodies is of great importance to ensuring that future generations of Greenland white-fronted geese keep returning to Wales.”
BASC is helping to raise wider awareness of the Greenland white-fronted goose in Wales in the hope that other over-wintering populations can be discovered. Last winter birds were recorded visiting only two places in Wales. On the Dyfi estuary up to 55 birds were recorded from October 2012 to April 2013. On Marloes Mere, a nature reserve on the Pembrokeshire peninsula, four birds visited briefly in November 2012. If other regular wintering sites are discovered then similar partnerships to those on the Dyfi estuary could be set up.
BASC is encouraging its members across Wales to help record sightings of the birds. A Facebook page has been set up by the Greenland white-fronted goose study. Sightings of the birds can be shared by clicking here or email your sightings in Wales directly to: email@example.com.