Previous springs, the ducklings and funny punky little baby coots have got more of our attention.
And we’ve been a bit wary of mum and dad goose.
Who what with the neck stretching and hissing seemed ever so slightly scary.
But with the help of a fab park ranger, we’ve got to know the goslings.
They are seriously friendly.
Even mum and dad.
And we’ve been learning how we can help look after them.
‘Cos there’s a problem for the goslings.
Mum and dad goose, you see, picked a kind off duff pond for their nest.
Give them their due, it looked promising.
It’s fenced in, so the foxes can’t get in.
But all the grass – and goslings we discovered need a lot of grass – is on the other side of the fence!
At the moment the goslings can squeeze through to get the grass.
But mum and dad can’t.
And very sadly – warning gory bit coming up! – …
… the crow has managed to take 3 of the 6 goslings 🙁
So, under the park ranger’s guidance, we’re helping to feed the 3 left.
The big thing of course, is DO NOT feed them bread.
Yep, they love it. But it’s bad for them. And it’s bad for the pond.
Their natural food is grass.
And particularly sticky grass.
Do you know that stuff?
You might call it stickyjack or catchweed or sticky willy 😉
But it’s also known as goose grass. They adore it!
Luckily, we’ve a fine crop of it in our weed friendly garden.
And we take some to them twice a day.
The whole family now recognise us as soon as we appear – geese really are intelligent birds!
And mum and dad and the three goslings hurriedly plop into the water and swim across to take the goose grass from our hands.
Mum and dad do snap at your fingers a bit.
But it’s not agressive. Just clumsy.
And it’s giving us the most amazing opportunity to watch the goslings grew.
Initially, they were tiny balls of greeny yellow fluff.
A perfect camouflage colour in the spring reeds.
Almost 4 weeks later their necks are lengthening and the fluff is turning brown.
They’re learning to put their heads in the water.
Interestingly they don’t to begin with.
And they’re starting to rise out of the water and practice flapping their still very stubby wings.
But they absolutely can’t fly.
And won’t until they’re feathered and almost full grown.
Probably another 4 to 6 weeks.
Which is another problem.
Because there is just not enough food around the pond.
And soon they won’t be able to get through the fence.
Apparently this is not uncommon for wild geese and goslings.
Mum and dad will often pick a very safe pond to hatch the goslings.
And then later on march them in a line to a pond with more food.
Hmmm … for our goslings, that will involve crossing a big London road!
And even though, the geese – compared with ducks – are very, very attentive parents, (they mate for life), who never let the goslings out of their sight and always make sure the family moves as a group with one parent at the front and one at the back, I don’t they’re going to manage the zebra crossing.
I honestly don’t know what will happen.
It could all end badly.
But seeing the goslings everyday – and yes they have been given names! – has been the most wonderful opportunity to watch nature close up.
And to notice tiny details and changes in the goslings bodies and behaviour as they grow and learn.
And to appreciate far more the dependencies between the goslings and their environment.
And how vulnerable these can by.
If you’ve got wild geese and goslings on your pond, do introduce yourself.
And yes of course they are after food, but heh, it’s worth it.
If you can find goose grass take them that.
Or try offering other grass and see what they like.
Or for feeding ducks and geese generally get some special wildfowl food.
This was recommended to us by our park ranger and doesn’t harm them or the pond.
We give the goslings a bit with the goose grass.
Obviously, if you are feeding the birds or any other animals, you should wash or anti-bac hands thoroughly afterwards.
And for more simple ideas for exploring nature with kids check out my other nature notes.
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