I’ve been back in the field (the Cotswold Water park) for a brief stint to check out what the geese are up to. The flock structure changed even during the time I was there but it’s pretty apparent that the birds have one thing on their minds. Geese were paired up all over the place, calling loudly to announce their presence to other birds and some were even starting to build nests. Having recorded flock structure since the moult last year, it will be interesting to look at whether birds that have become pairs were associating strongly last year: do you hang out all year with your partner, or do you exist as free agents for most of the year and only join up again for the mating season? From other work in geese, I think it’s likely that pairs associate throughout the year, but it’s going to be interesting to look into.
Edit: It’s not just the geese! There were also lots of cormorants coming into breeding mode around South Cerney and bright red-crested pochard all over the place. When I’m better on my bird ID, I’ll have to start sending things into the Cotswold Water Park birding blog.