A TAGGING project has revealed new insights into the remarkable migration of Brent geese in its third year of operation.

Essex Wildlife Trust and the Southern Colour Ringing Group launched a dark-bellied Brent geese satellite tagging project in 2018.

This was to gain a better understanding of the species’ impressive 2,500 mile annual migration to their breeding grounds in Siberia.

The conservation charity now has an improved insight into the movements of these feathered winter visitors.

This year, 20 more geese were fitted with Darvic rings, unique to the Blue House Farm project in North Fambridge, near Maldon, bringing the total number of ringed birds to 52.

Two more birds have also been fitted with a GPS tracker, including a juvenile animal, which will help gain more information about life span and dispersal patterns of the species.

Harry Smith, Essex Wildlife Trust’s warden at Blue House Farm, said: “We’re learning more each year about the movements of the geese which has been incredibly insightful regarding how best to protect them in future.

“We’re incredibly grateful to the Essex Recorders Partnership, Essex Birdwatching Society and the Southern Colour Ringing Group for fundraising for the satellite tags and supporting this valuable project.”

The teams have observed how the geese are using the Crouch Estuary over winter, the interaction between parent and offspring movements, the distribution of family units within the whole overwintering flock and interactions between unrelated birds.

The tracking has also identified important sites, finding the same birds are using two of Essex Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves.

The animals have been tracked moving up to 11km within the Crouch Estuary over the duration of winter.

It has also been discovered the birds have preferred roosting sites, returning within 200m to 300m of the same areas each evening to roost.

A quarter of the world’s population of the dark-bellied Brent geese spend the winter months around the Essex coast and the information collected by Essex Wildlife Trust will be used to help protect them going forward.

The saltmarsh habitat around the River Crouch has degraded over the past century but the research from the project will help inform the trust’s conservation efforts to protect the area in the future.

To find out more about Essex Wildlife Trust and its conservation work, visit essexwt.org.uk.