Earlier this week the first ever Red-breasted Goose census took place in Hungary, following an increased number of observations across the country. The census resulted incredible numbers of these beautiful and globally threatened goose species.
On 6 November 1,733 Red-breasted Goose were counted. Most of the birds were found in the Hortobágy National Park in Eastern Hungary. A single flock of 581 birds and another big one of 412 birds were present on two fishpond. On the wetlands of my former local patches, the Old Lake of Tata and the Ferencmajor fishponds resulted 5 Red-breasted Geese, but this number has increased to 29 by today.
Hungarian goose experts speculated that this event was the beginning of the split of the wintering sites. It is known that the Arctic breeder Red-breasted Goose is wintering along the northern and western coast of the Black Sea, but small number of birds spend the winter in the Carpathian Basin (Central Europe). It needs further investigations wether something has happened on the traditional wintering sites or this is just a one-off event.
On the very same day more than 50 Lesser White-fronted Goose and tens of thousands Greater White-fronted Goose were counted across the country. However not all goose species are doing well. Worryingly low numbers of Tundra and Taiga Bean Goose have been registered in my hometown where it had been a dominant goose species in the ’90s. Less than 1% of the total number of wild geese (15,000 birds) was Tundra or Taiga Bean Goose on the Old Lake of Tata this morning. One of my very best friends, László Musicz said.
Soon we have to initiate the legal protection of the Tundra Bean Geese. A decade ago everyone would have been laughing on such a proposal, then a few years ago we started scratching our head, and today it became a reality.
I will follow the progress reports from Hungary and post updates regularly. Huge thanks for the photos to Sándor Borza (Hungary), Zsolt Ampovics (Hungary) and Nikolai Petkov (Bulgaria).
Update on 10 November 2014
The Hortobágy National Park (HNP) Authority published an update on their website with the final total number of Red-breasted Geese counted during the census. According to the report over 2,000 Red-breasted Geese have been recorded in the whole country including 1,806 birds within the Hortobágy National Park territory.
Sadly, the Tundra/Taiga Bean Goose numbers equalled with the Globally Threatened Lesser White-fronted Goose, while more than 230,000 Greater White-fronted Geese were present in the HNP alone. This issue has to be taken seriously without any further delay!