Over Summer 2021 CCGHT supported Mitchell Steele to carry out a Masters research project on Rathlin Island, looking to gauge the damage to agricultural crops by Greylag geese. Mitchell is a student of Queen’s University Belfast’s School of Biological Sciences and took up residence in Kebble Cottage June/July 2021 thanks to DAERA NIEA.
Over six weeks he carried out a field experimental approach to investigate the level of grazing damage by Greylag geese on Rathlin Island by comparing length and weight measurements of sward samples, taken from caged plots where grazing activity is restricted, and corresponding control plots. This research was only possible thanks to the cooperation of landowners and the local community.
The results of Mitchell’s research indicate that that Greylag geese (A. anser) have a significant impact on grassland habitats across the study sites with impact being greatest around Ushet Lough. The impact of the Greylag geese stretches beyond eating crops, their faeces can cause harm and they can generally cause disruption.
Although more research is needed to further understand the population size, movements and impacts Mitchell’s research provides a good start and supports ongoing work by CCGHT, NIEA, RDCA, RSPB and the community to look after Rathlin Island’s special habitats and environment.
Read the full report here: Rathlin Island Sward Damage Report Nov 21