Wednesday, 9 July 2014


Every year at my school in Oxfordshire, a pair of Canada Geese have goslings on an island on the site. Off limits to students, the moated island provides the isolation and shelter these birds need to nest. Usually they have a clutch of about 5-6 in May, of which only 3-4 survive. The rest are picked off by predators such as Foxes or Herons which often visit the island, despite the best efforts of their aggressive parents to protect them. 

This year, however, the geese had eight little goslings, and incredibly all eight have so far survived! I went to film them back in May (see below) when they were still only about a week and a half old. At this age they are tiny and look very un-goose-like, completely covered in yellow downy feathers and lacking the characteristic white chinstraps of their parents.

We know that one male has been coming for several years now. A few years ago this male got his leg caught in a fishing hook while he was raising his young on the moat. The school caretakers came to his rescue, catching him and removing the hook which has left a distinguishable scar on his right leg. We've no way of knowing if the female is the same one which has been visiting for years, but Canada Geese mate for life so the chances are that she is. Canada Geese are long living (the oldest recorded was 27 years old!), so the hope is that this pair will keep coming back to our moat for many more years to come.  

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