Those of you who have followed my blog for a year or more will know that we are visited in the springtime by Greylags (Anser anser). These are wild (though the books say ‘feral’) geese who arrive in February and spend the first month or so wandering about the garden and the adjoining fields eating the grass (and the farmer’s barley and wheat) and generally making themselves at home. Large family groups often stay a few hours with us before flying off somewhere else. By the end of March nesting is their priority and fewer Greylags visit and when they do they stay for longer, looking for likely nesting sites or trying to take over the prime site on the island.
Until four years ago the same pair of geese nested on the little island on our big pond and the last time they nested they produced seven goslings. They stayed with us until the young geese had learnt to fly which was great fun to watch. We were sorry to see them go but we got our garden back which was a relief. And what a mess they left behind!
The following year there was a week of fighting between ganders and at the end of it I believe the parents were eventually ousted from the nesting site on the island. Other geese nested there, and on the edge of the pond, but no goslings hatched, or if they did they didn’t survive for long. We had a couple of years of no goslings and then last year, the pair who have taken over the island had six goslings and I was able to photograph them. The parents decided to take them off elsewhere after a few days so we didn’t see how they faired.
This year the goose began sitting a little later than usual, probably because of our cold spring and I am pleased to say that two weeks ago she successfully hatched ten goslings and they have all survived so far.
Greylags appear to pair for life and the gander is very protective of his goose and stays near her all the time she is incubating her eggs. She leaves her nest twice a day to feed and the gander stands next to her while she eats very quickly. He is also an extremely protective parent and guards his offspring and protects them from predators – and gardeners with wheelbarrows and anyone wanting to walk round the garden!
I have filmed them (very badly!) and I finish this post with a video of them. I used my new camera and I haven’t quite mastered filming yet! For the second and third clips I should have zoomed in much closer and the first clip of them swimming has a lot of background noise for which I apologise. As soon as I began filming some farm machinery started up. I continued filming as I might not have had another chance and I have reduced the volume considerably on the video. Living in the country is not as peaceful as you might imagine! I will try to make another and better video of them soon.
Thanks for visiting!