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Thursday 16 October 2008

Thuggish geese

Autumn leaves at Castlefield, Manchester

Imagine the scene: a beautiful sunny Autumn day on the banks of the canal in Castlefield, golden leaves rustling above my head.

I sit down on a bench, lift my Greggs chargrilled chicken sandwich out of the paper bag and suddenly I’m surrounded by three large geese. One of which keeps running up to me, trying to get at my sandwich.

Persistent goose at Castlefield, Manchester

I get the impression that this bird knows exactly what tactics are most likely to get a result. He’s large, really quite intimidating and at one point I retreat behind the bench. But eventually I realise that I can keep him at bay by stretching out my legs. So I sit down again. Actually he’s not that bad after all. Quite cute.

But what’s this? Sudden a ‘honking’ sound in the distance. Two really big swans arrive, leap out of the water, wings open and run towards me. They could probably break your wrist with a peck, so I leap behind the bench again. Much to the amusement of some people who are passing safely on the other side of the canal.

Swans at Castlefield, Manchester

Eventually the swans give up and take to the water again. One flaps its huge wings and they sail off into the distance.

Swans at Castlefield, Manchester

Swans at Castlefield, Manchester

Take my advice, if you’re thinking of relaxing with a sandwich, stick to Piccadilly Gardens…


Filed under: Environment,Wildlife — GS @ 8:41 pm
Wednesday 23 August 2006

Birdlife

One of the things you notice when you come from Manchester city centre to a small village out in the country is the birdlife.

Sure we have magpies, pigeons, starlings and even parrots where I live in Manchester. But here there is just so much more variety and so many of them: swifts, swallows, thrushes, blackbirds, finches, wrens, occasionally geese and birds of prey and, unlike some parts of Britain, there is no shortage of sparrows here. All of these can be seen from the house. Recently I posted a video of a woodpecker that was outside my window.

When I lived here fulltime I had two cats and there were many others in the neighbourhood, with inevitable consequences. Now there are no cats and the birds are thriving. But it can still be harsh at times.

Last year I was watching a beautiful thrush hopping about on the lawn. An hour later I found it dead. It had either choked to death on something (a slug pellet from one of the other gardens?) or maybe it had just happened to drop dead for some reason.

I arrived to find the swallows nesting in the passageway between the houses, as they have done for decades. I could see three or four little beaks peeking over the edge of the nest and they were a few days from fledging. One year I got this great shot of them just after they left the nest.

Swallows just after leaving the nest

Sad to say, last week, I found all the chicks dead on the ground below. I don’t know what happened. There was no sign of any damage to the nest. But we did have workmen outside the house cutting up the pavement with one of those noisy saws. I wonder if that kept the parent birds away and when they returned the baby birds were dead, so the parents threw them out of the nest?

Nature can be tough. I’m starting to feel like the vet in The League of Gentlemen!


Filed under: Wildlife — GS @ 3:21 am
 
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