R espon ses o f wintering Brent G eese to hum an disturbance

G Thomas, N O W E N S
W ildfow l E co log y S ym posiu m 1950. Wigeon were first noticed feeding on germinating winter cereals in the 1963 winter and Pintail on cereals and potatoes in the mid-1960s. This coincides with an increased usage o f the Ouse W ashes by these species as well as the prolonged freeze-ups in those winters. During the period o f study, continuous freeze-ups were uncom m on and usually lasted for less than one week. When they occurred the populations o f ducks, except Mallard, Pintail and Wigeon
more » ... left the Ouse Washes, presumably for coastal or brackish areas. Although populations o f these three species became depressed the majority o f birds turned to feeding on waste potatoes and winter wheat leaves. Summary The paper describes some of the broad features governing habitat usage of wintering ducks at the Ouse Washes, England. They include flooding, disturbance , refuges, climate and availability of food. Summary An assessment is given of the effects of human disturbance on the distribution and behaviour of Dark-bellied Brent Geese Branta bernicla bernicla wintering in Essex. Disturbed areas and places with poor visibility were avoided in early winter, but were used later when other areas became depleted of food. Geese became partially habituated to the proximity of people and to some loud noises, but not to small low-flying aircraft. Disturbance could be greatly reduced by restricting access to the sea wall in certain areas around high tide, and by controlling low-flying aircraft.