Walking beside the creek near to my home recently I realised we had been invaded by some noisy new neighbours. Canada geese had taken up residence for the winter.
I say unusual, which is true for the waterways near to where I live but Canada geese have been part of the British landscape for more than 300 years. It was King Charles II who originally introduced them. He thought that they would look attractive in his new water gardens in St James Park. With their black heads and striking stripped white cheeks he was probably right.
These noisy new neighbours of mine are really natives of the Arctic and North America. They are large birds with an intimidating wingspan of around 5 feet. They also have very loud voices. They cackle to themselves as they graze on the grass and roots of the tidal mudflats.
These birds are perfectly at home here in this country and the temperate climate means that they don’t even bother to migrate. Their success however has become their downfall and many believe that their numbers are now out of control.
There are now an estimated 62,000 breeding pairs in the United Kingdom and even the RSPB has expressed concern at the effect their numbers are having on our native species. Reports of crop damage and attacks on people have led to calls for a cull to reduce their numbers. But when last summer the West Midlands council admitted to killing more than 200 of the birds there was a outcry especially when it became clear that they had lied to the public by originally telling them that the birds had only been “relocated”.
Whatever the case if the numbers need to be reduced we really need to find a humane way of doing it. Conservationists have suggested sterilisation of their eggs or fencing the birds off from the public to reduce the risk of attacks.
I however am very happy to see my new neighbours and enjoy their company. Rightly or wrongly i am looking forward to the spring to see whether they decide to stay and more importantly whether they decide to breed.