Daily Archives: May 5, 2012

Wild Geese

At the same time I was experimenting with ISO and coots at Milton Country Park there were geese in the vicinity too. A small flock of greylag geese (Anser anser, Dansk: grågås) were grazing in a field  immediately adjacent to the park.

There is another flock of greylags I encounter every day on my way to and from work. There are around 20-30 that have taken up residence in a field that is on my cycle route. The field is adjacent to a lake and the cycle path passes between them and every morning I pass by there are numerous heads poking up above the crop. I’m surprised the farmer puts up with this because the field now has a number of large threadbare patches as a result of the goose activity. But the geese have been there for a couple of months now and so far he hasn’t shot them so I imagine he probably doesn’t plan to. Which I’m rather pleased about.


Five of a small group of greylags ensconced in a field immediately adjacent to Milton Country Park

The RSPB website tells us that the greylag is the ancestor of domestic geese and is one of the largest and bulkiest geese native to the UK. It also describes it as ‘uninspiring‘. However, a few weeks ago on my way to work the flock of greylags were spooked and flushed up into the air. They headed for the safety of the lake which was only around 75m away so they didn’t need to gain height and one of them veered around and was heading straight for me at headheight. We simultaneously computed that if we continued on our current trajectories the end result would be an ugly collision twixt self and goose! So I braked and the goose wheeled, and it duly arrived at the lake unscathed, passing a few metres in front of me. My adrenaline levels were significantly elevated for the remainder of my journey to work and I can attest to the fact that this particular greylag was indeed very large and very bulky. And anything but uninspiring.

A lone canada goose – I like the symmetry of the reflection

The canada goose (Branta canadensis, Dansk: canadagås) was introduced to the UK and is now a resident breeder here and can be seen all over the UK apart from northern Scotland, and like the greylag it feeds on vegetation. I think it’s a handsome bird.

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The indomitable coot – addendum: yesterday I posted about how aggresive coots can and this fantastic picture from Ian Butler demonstrates the point quite splendidly… I imagine the heron got a bit of a shellacking when it touched down!

Ian Butler Photography

I flushed this heron whilst walking around the reserve and unfortunately for the heron it flew straight towards a coot nest.  The adult coots then proceeded to launch a full scale attack on the heron for being too close to the nest.  The heron then had to change direction quickly, which ultimately lead to the heron slowing down and landing about a foot away from the coots nest, which lead the coots to become even more aggresive because of this.  In the end the heron flew past me instead of the coots which in my opinion was the safest option in the first place! Whether the heron thought that the coots would be more concerned about me and tried to take one of the coot chicks or whether it was just an honest mistake I dont know.  It happened extremely quickly and this is the one of the images of the pair of…

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