The bad guys of the bird world

The most hated bird in Britain has landed in Oak Meadow. There has been a lot of rain and the pond is full of clear deep water, which is a big attraction for the visitors, who shouted out in glee. Their calls echoed round the empty field. I went to investigate, and they held their heads high and gave raucous shouts. They were warning me off, telling me not to get too near, but it’s my field and I wanted to see what was going on.

This was a flock of Canada geese. I could easily tell what they were as they each had a black head with white part underneath.  They look as if they have a bad-tooth bandages on.

I stood and watched them as they bent their heads to eat the grass. They seemed to get grass in their beaks and then jerk their heads upwards to break the blade. All the while they kept their eyes on me turning sideways to get a clearer picture of me. Geese do that, they don’t look at you with their beaks pointing at you, they look sideways so one eye gets a full picture.

They walked gingerly, looking at their feet. It was as if they had shoes on that didn’t fit, and they had to watch their every step. Every now and again they stopped, turned their head sideways to spy on me and shouted at me to go away.

They are big, bullying, noisy and messy and I can see why they are not liked. Farmers don’t want them because they eat their crops. But lots of Canada geese have decided that they like living here and have made our fields and parks their home. Even more migrate here in the winter. They take over, as if they own our land.

We reared white geese once. My scheme was to make money by fattening them up for Christmas. But our geese would not comply. They would not get fat. Farmers told me that they should not be running free on the fields and that they needed to be filling up with grain. But they spurned the corn. They loved the fields and every morning they flew out, in a long low sweep, over the grass, in a greeting of joy. They would not eat enough grain and my venture failed.

These Canada geese have learnt the trick of getting fat – they are so big you wonder how they could ever fly, but they can quite easily. First, they had a gleeful dip in our lusciously overflowing pond. Then, with a shout, they took off and rose easily into the sky forming their famous ‘v’ shape silhouette in the darkening sky. They called loudly as they rose over our chimney pots and went off to find another patch of land to claim as their own. And just for that one moment I admired their audacity.


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