Activity budgets of Greenland White-fronted Geese Anser albifrons flavirostris spring staging on Icelandic hayfields
The activity budgets of Greenland White-fronted Geese Anser albifrons flavirostris during spring staging were studied in different Icelandic hayfields dominated by three grass species: Poa pratensis, Deschampsia caespitosa and Phleum pratense. Geese spent 70-90% of the daylight period (12.5-14.5 hours a day) feeding, consistent with the need to build up body reserves during the short staging period before the onward flight to West Greenland summering areas. Feeding activity showed a strong diurnal rhythm, being least (70%) on arrival in fields from the roost, increasing steadily during the day, with a corresponding drop in resting activities, to reach 90% feeding in the evening. Possible explanations for this unusual pattern are discussed. There were small but significant differences in the time spent feeding in fields of different sward types. Geese were foraging in Phleum fields, thought to be the most nutritious grass species compared to the two native ones, for 81% of daylight hours compared with 83% in the two other sward types. The conservation implications of the high percentage time spent feeding are discussed.
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