The Wild Goose Chase

The Wild Goose Chase

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Bathurst Island, Iceland, Polar Bear Pass, Strangford Lough, Wexford




Transmission 01/06/2001


24min 23sec







Digitised as part of the UTV Archive Partnership Project (ITV, Northern Ireland Screen and PRONI)


By Word productions, Department for Communities, ITV, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

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By Word Productions, ITV

It is illegal to download, copy, print or otherwise utilise in any other form this material, without written consent from the copyright holder.


Brian Black presents this documentary, charting the migratory patterns of Brent geese, from Northern Ireland to Canada's arctic with a week long trek across Iceland.

Beginning the journey at Strangford Lough were "very shortly, tens of thousands of geese... will leave the shores of Ireland, for the frozen waists of the high arctic. They will cross oceans, they will cross ice covered mountains and glaziers to reach their destination". Dr Bob Brown (Director of RSPB) gives insight into how vital it is that the geese are looked after properly in NI, with their survival depending on being the correct weight etc. 

In Iceland, President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, discusses the bird's presence around the presidential residence and why he's involved with their protection. He cites that in Iceland they "see them as our guests... tradition from throughout the centuries is to welcome the migratory birds with great joy and excitement because... we know the days will be longer and spring is in the air". However, despite this, no geese sightings are found along Polar Bear Pass, and after a tough trek, both Black and Brown return to base. 

Back in Northern Ireland, to increase awareness about the geese, billboards are being erected and events planned for their imminent arrival so as to "give the community a sense of ownership - this is 'their' bird"! 

Shot List

Part one. Views of light-bellied Brent geese flying through the sky. Presenter Brian Black [BB] on the shores of Strangford Lough, discussing geese’ migratory patterns, the dangers the geese face, and what Ireland is doing to help the geese. Views of the geese in April, before migrating north. BB with Dr Bob Brown [BBR], director of RSPB, in Iceland in May. Discussion on what requirements the geese have before migrating to the Canadian arctic. Views of Icelandic coastline. Interviews with Dr Gudmundur Gudmundsson, Icelandic Institute of Natural History, and Johan Oli Hilmarsson, ornithologist, on the Icelandic efforts to protect the birds. Interview with Iceland’s president Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, on the birds’ presence around the presidential residence, and why he’s involved in their protection. Discussion on the birds’ migratory path. Exterior views of the north of Canada ice fields at Polar Bear Pass, in July, with BB searching for the Brent geese from a small plane. BB reporting from Bathurst Island, with small plane dropping off supplies and flying away. Discussion of project team: Norman Ittilite (?) [NI] guide and guard. BB and NI in an expedition hut belonging to the Canadian Wildlife Service. BB and NI walking the length of Polar Bear Pass, views of flora and fauna. Views of Polar bears. BB and NI searching for geese. Interview with Tony Romito, Wildlife Ranger in Resolute Bay, on why it might be difficult to find the geese. BB discussing conservation and traditional way of life in the high arctic. Discussion and views of seal hunting by Inuit peoples. Interview with Inuit man on how his people hunt, and their traditions. Part two. Views of Ireland in October, with returning geese. Group of men getting a billboard of the geese erected, to give people ownership of the geese and make them aware. Interview with James Orr, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust. BBR speaking to Austin Reed, Canadian Wildlife Service, to find out why the Brent geese weren’t in Polar Bear Pass. Views of ground hogs in Canada. Geese by the shores in Donegal; interview with Jimmy Gallagher, oyster farmer, on living alongside geese. Discussion on the pressure the Brent geese are under, and the conservation issues they face. Problems with geese flying into power lines, building issues that can cause problems for the geese, or destruction to their habitat or feeding grounds. Brent Research Group meeting to discuss issues affecting geese. Interview with Oscan Mearne, Duchas. Interview with Kerry Mackie, Irish Brent Geese Research Group. Counting of returning geese to Ireland. Children viewing geese. Geese at their winter habitats in Wexford. Interview with Alyn Walsh, Wexford Wildlife Reserve, discussing decoys set up to net the birds. Capturing birds to set up tracking devices. Interview with David Thompson, National Trust, on the coordinated approach by ornithologists. 


Produced by : By Word -Naturally- for UTV.

With Thanks To: Environment and Heritage Service (DoE N. Ireland), Duchas (The Heritage Service of The Dept. Of Arts Heritage Service and The Islands), Northern Ireland Electricity and Alan Brown. 




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