Photographer's Note

Every year, in Bushy Park, we have a few nesting pairs of Egyptian geese. I have posted an image of Egyptian goslings on TE before.

Last Saturday, I was watching a family of four tiny newly-hatched babies and two parents walking across a stretch of grassland, when one of the goslings tripped and started limping. A few people stopped and watched with growing concern. I phoned my friend Sue, who knows everything about Bushy Park and she gave me the address of the park’s vet and their telephone number. A helpful couple with a car parked nearby went to the park café and fetched a box. We caught the injured bird and off they went to take it to the vet. They phoned me later to say that the gosling’s leg would be fixed and that it would, one day, be reintroduced to the park. But it will not be a member of the same family again as, after a few days of absence, the parents reject their young. That’s nature’s way.

But this is Valentine’s Day and I’m not posting a photo of waterfowl, however cute, accompanied by a story of wildlife rescue. This is a story of love.

As I was there, talking to Sue, then waiting for the box, I had an opportunity to watch the behaviour of the birds. When the injured gosling started lagging behind, the family continued on their march towards the local pond. Except for one little one, that retuned to check on its lame brother or sister, and, having seen what happened, started making desperate noise. The parents retuned, but not for long. Obviously having assessed the case as hopeless, they walked away again, leaving, this time, not just one, but two offsprings behind. The brave little gosling didn’t follow, seemingly determined not to give up on its injured sibling as if oblivious of the fact that in Goose World being left without one’s family means violent death in the jaws or the beak of a predator within the next hour or so. Its concern for the wellbeing of its brother or sister was stronger than its survival instinct. And it was obviously much stronger than the parental instinct of the two adult geese. An example of loyalty not always found even among humans. When we placed the injured gosling in the box, the other one was showing signs of distress - it went quiet and started shaking. Someone mercifully picked it up and carried it to the pond where it rejoined the family.

What I found the most surprising was to observe such a wide range of reactions among animals representing the same species.

Nature’s way? It looks like love, actually, is all around. ☺

One more photo in WS. Happy Valentine’s to all my TE friends!

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Additional Photos by Kasia Nowak (kasianowak) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1597 W: 9 N: 3247] (16832)
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