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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15 responses to “Wild Geese

  1. Love the shot of the Canada Goose. The reflection adds such a nice element to the composition.

  2. I find everything that Mother and Father Nature provide to us to be inspiring.

  3. I agree, Finn, that the greylag doesn’t deserve the epithet “uninspiring”. I reserve that for starlings and sparrows. Here in this part of rural Quebec, we get huge flocks of migrating canada- and snowgeese, on the lakes and in the fields. I recall an almost ghostly episode a number of years ago, when there was an enormous cloud of snowgeese in the big field by the house — thousands of birds churning the air. So impressive was the sight that it brought cars on the country road to a halt. Then, from the woods on the other side of the field, a single shot rang out, sending the entire flock aloft in panic and turmoil. Out of the shadows emerged a lone figure, gun in hand, who trudged across the field beneath the departing chaos to retrieve a still-warm bird. By the time he’d returned amongst the trees, the air was empty. No license; out of season; — but I’ll admit to still feeling a sneaking admiration for him.

  4. Not sure. I thought the distribution resulted from their fondness for eating bread in parks and swimming in city lakes and ponds. 😉

  5. I especially like the Canada Goose, Finn…we have some here on our inner-city lakes (ponds) and golf-courses, so I get to see plenty of them.

  6. Loved the story and the photo of the Canada goose is fantastic! We have quite a concentration of Canada goose where we live in Kentucky. They are visible in just about every area of town ~ neigborhoods, parks, lakes, schools, parking lots. We definitely share nature and space with them. We hear/see them every afternoon flying by our home. My son recognizes their call now. And this time of year, you can see the essence of family with their goslings trotting along.

  7. That’s a lovely photo of the Canada Goose, but I think it’s rather mean of the RSPB to describe the greylag as ‘uninspiring’ – they’re supposed to be mad about all birds aren’t they? Tchah. Anyway, I’m very glad you and the goose avoided collision, I’ve never been quite that close to a flying goose myself but I can imagine it would be an unforgettable experience! Are farmers allowed to shoot geese on their land? I didn’t know that.

    • It would have made a funnier story if we had collided, but I’m gald we didn’t, more for the gooses sake than mine. I’m not sure about shooting geese – I hope it’s not allowed but I feel for the farmer too if there’s nothig he can do about it.

      I think ‘uninspiring’ is a tad unfair, even when applied to a common or garden goose.

  8. I’m also pleased that the farmer hasn’t shot the geese. Most of our cities in Colorado are overrun with the Canada goose, and you see far fewer of them in the country. They are now urban birds. 😉

    • Is the distribution a climatic thing? They originate from temperate and Arctic North America so I can imagine the climate in Colorado may not be favourable outside the cities?

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