Posts Tagged ‘geese’

Outer London Geese

April 25, 2015

I’m not a great lover of big cities and their suburbs. I much prefer open spaces and hilltops. But my daughter lives in Bexleyheath in south east London so of course we visit to see her and the grandchildren.

There’s a large area of parkland nearby. It’s called Danson Park. I wouldn’t rate it as one of the great beauty spots of England but it does offer open space and a chance to see some wild or semi-wild life. It almost goes without saying that one of the commonest birds is the green parakeet. For people in the UK unaware of it, escapee birds have made the parks of London and surrounding areas their homes. Although they are antipodean in origin, they seem to thrive in the extra couple of degrees of warmth the city provides. Their parrot like squawks are loud enough to be heard over the ever present rumble of road traffic.

Parakeets are not the only immigrant birds we find in Danson Park. In a walk around the lake I saw three species of goose and two of them originate from elsewhere.

But let’s start with a goose that is native to Britain and Europe – the greylag goose, ancestor of most of the domesticated geese we might see in this country. This one, on the large, multi-function lake at Danson Park was perched on the structure of a water basketball net.

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Now I call that a gloriously handsome bird and I must disagree with a statement on the RSPB website which reads:

 In many parts of the UK it has been re-established by releasing birds in suitable areas, but the resulting flocks (often mixed with Canada geese) found around gravel pits, lakes and reservoirs all year round in southern Britain tend to be semi-tame and uninspiring.

Is that bird uninspiring? I think not. I was inspired to get a photo of it. OK, the surroundings might not inspire like areas of Scotland where truly wild greylags are found, but the bird itself is still gorgeous.

I like Canada geese too. It is very much an incomer from North America and was probably introduced deliberately. It spread its wings to thrive in all parts ofthe UK except the north of Scotland. Some regard it as a nuisance. But I see them as delightful.

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For most people, they must be the most commonly seen goose.

My third goose is another incomer which, I gather, breeds in Bexleyheath. It’s an Egyptian goose.

It wasn’t that close to me, being on the island in the lake. The lovely sunshine made it seem a bit of a silhouette, but I was certain I didn’t recognise it. So I set the camera to maximum zoom, pointed and pressed the shutter in the hope I could use a photo to identify the bird. It’s funny how the camera can sometimes see better than the naked eye.

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That’s the photo as taken but I can digitally zoom in for a blog post which only uses about 1800 pixels for the main picture.

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Those pale pink legs, pinkish back and large dark eye patch were the giveaways for identification. Mind you, I cheated when trying to identify it. I used google images and typed goose Danson Park. The first image was of a bird of this type – and it was far sharper and clearer than mine.

Other birds on the lake included mallards, coots, moorhens, mute swans, black headed gulls and larger gulls not seen clearly enough to be certain about. It all made for a good learning experience for grandson.

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Geese

August 26, 2014

I like geese and used to keep them in the days when foxes followed the rules and only came out hunting at night.

I have featured some of my own geese on this blog before. Click here to see/read that post.

Today we are looking at geese on the Faroe Islands – those magnificent dots of land in the North Atlantic between the Shetland Islands and Iceland.

Father in Law was based on these islands towards the end of World War Two. He took this picture of geese.

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There’s not much livestock that can cope with the pretty harsh environment up here. But geese can and (apologies to vegetarians) they’ll make a decent meal. Actually, on the topic of vegetarianism – I dare say such folks can survive on the Faroe Islands, but traditionally food has been scarce and islanders ate what they could. It wouldn’t be an ideal place to have too many food restrictions.

Of interest in that picture from about 1945 is the peat stack. The Faroes have got energy sorted. Electricity is all generated from renewable sources on the islands and as a result the peat stack is no longer much in evidence.

But geese are. This is a photo I took in 2005.

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There are these handsome beasts enjoying a bit of sunshine as they convert indigestible (for humans) grass into poultry meat which we can eat.

And after all that a confession. I have tried eating goose – one of my own – and I thought it had quite an unpleasant flavour. These are very much birds I’m happy to look at and chat with (They don’t understand, of course, but it can feel like they do). I’d rather not eat them.

And with that I’ll remind anyone who feels they look cute, beautiful or anything like that, that these birds would not be there if people didn’t eat them.

And don’t be put off visiting these islands. You can get imported food perfectly easily in supermarkets and the islands and people are just fantastic.

The Twelfth Day of Christmas

January 6, 2014

Yesterday was the traditional day (for me at any rate) of packing Christmas away. Many folks tire of Christmas very quickly and they probably disposed of the remnants days ago but in my household we stick to the old traditions.

Before Christmas I was at a party which had a quiz. One of the questions concerned how many gifts in total were given in the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas. Being of the age where we were taught how to do sums, I quickly had an answer – it comes to 364. Had I been given these gifts I’d have had most geese and swans – 42 of each. As far as I know I am not supposed to have swans, but geese I have kept and loved. Back in 2003 I had just three of them. They were gorgeous, beautiful birds but sadly, old Reynard changed habits and came in the day and thought they were gorgeous tasty birds.

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I still miss them, waddling round the field, stamping their feet when annoyed and having long and oh so meaningful conversations with me.

Of the other gifts in the song, I see partridges occasionally here, but not as often as pheasants. Turtle doves I do not see, but collared doves we have a plenty.

I don’t know about French hens, but I used to keep mixed hens – they, sadly, went the way of the geese.

I may not have geese, but my part of the world is alive with calling birds. How about this one – a goldfinch on my doorstep.

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It’s pleased I let dandelions go to seed!

There’s one gold ring in the garden somewhere. It’s my wife’s lost wedding ring.

After the swans we move on to the people. I don’t suppose I would ever have been called a maid but I have done milking. I have done drumming as well. I could say I have done piping too, either in the form of plumbing or as part of a recorder group. Dancing and leaping certainly aren’t my thing these days, but I have done them.

But now I can put all thoughts of that song out of my head until next Christmas.