BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘Canada’

#365daysofbiking An only child

August 16th – There’s a small family hanging around Catshill Junction at the moment. The pair of Canada geese who often mug me on the towpath back toward Clayhanger this year had a second clutch, and just one gosling survives.

It’s doing well, however, and is now a large, healthy and undaunted bird, getting its feathers through and generally being doted on by mum and dad.

They were especially tolerant of me today – I think they know me by now – and there was minimal hissing and head-bobbing. Junior was undisturbed and seemed happy enough to pose for me.

A lovely little family – I hope this chicks parents can keep it safe.

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#365daysofbiking A new posse


August 3rd – I’ve always loved how the growing Canada geese clutches move into adulthood and still stay in loose family groups as they mature.

I encountered this particular group of beaky blinders at Ogley Junction, but they hatched near Catshill Junction and have been pottering around the local canals ever since. They are notable for being particularly intimidating, with mum (or dad, I never thought to ask) once leaping on my back as I was riding and pecking my head furiously.

This aggression has been passed to the next generation and one or two always take a lunge and hiss defensively at passers by, whatever their mode of transport.

Now in adult plumage, I’m fascinated by the one that appears to be suffering premature greyness and wonder if I should get it a bottle of Grecian 2000 or maybe just a black sharpie pen…

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#365daysofbiking Wetter than an otter’s pocket

July 30th – Tuesday was another washout: It rained on me on the way to work, and on the way home. It seems to do little else at the moment, bad weather is perched upon the Midlands summer like a vulture.

l experienced the heaviest rains I’ve ridden in for years; the roads were rivers and I headed home in fear and soaked through to the skin.

On the canal near Catshill Junction, the Canada geese didn’t seem to care. I loved the wee fellow seemingly sitting on his backside.

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#365daysofbiking Nursery tales

June 8th – The weather cleared, so I left the fair and headed up to Honey Hill, No Mans Heath, Netherseal, Coton in the Elms, Walton and over to Barton for coffee – but from the rickety Walton Bridge, I watched a fascinating drama unfold.

Four adult Canada geese were shepherding their clutches as one group along the reedbeds at the edge of the Trent, foraging for food. It’s not uncommon for these geese to team up on parenting duties or mind each other’s chicks, but this group of nearly 30 is one of the largest I’ve ever witnessed. It was stunning – not least for the control exerted by the parents.

They guided the goslings upstream to an inlet to the west. I watched as they processed one by one and two by two into the side brook.

Then, a splash and a flash of red fur – a fox was waiting. There was a commotion, and Reynard fled empty mouthed, and the geese herded their young back into the main river. They appeared to be counting as they gathered the young birds into a tight, safe circle.

Fox had gone, his lunch thwarted by eagle eyed parents – or maybe goose eyed – and then normal business resumed as a human with food was spotted on the eastern bank.

I’ve never seen anything like it and had I not ventured out on a wet, miserable Saturday, I probably never would have.

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#365daysofbiking A tense situation

May 21st – Not many people realise, but one of the reasons we see so many herons on local waterways at this time of year is that these large grey dishevelled fishers will also take young waterfowl chicks – moorhen, coot, ducklings, hatchling cygnets and goslings.

It’s not nice to think about, but herons have to eat too, and it’s why waterfowl have large clutches after all.

Today, in Pleck, Walsall I watched from the towpath as a tense situation developed: A pair of Canada geese with three goslings were heading into the path of the watchful eye of a heron, who was clearly looking for lunch.

The heron stayed put, statuesque, but the parents had spotted it. They halted their progress, and after what seemed like a silent debate between the parents, Dad honked loudly and aggressively at the heron. Heron was clearly irritated by the attention and took flight – the geese shouting what must have been abuse after it.

But, being a heron it landed again, a mere 100 yards down the canal.

Poor goslings have to be lucky all the time, the heron? Only once.

Nature, red in tooth and claw.

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#365daysofbiking Goosed

March 16th – A genuinely foul day, at least weather-wise. There were very strong, blustery winds and near constant rain, so I was limited to a short journey into Brownhills to get some shopping.

It was wet, cold and muddy, and really not a great day to be out.

In fact, the only souls I actually saw outside at all were the Canada geese. Even the mallards seemed to be in hiding.

Here’s hoping this grim spell passes soon.

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#365daysofbiking Unusual visitors

March 9th – Nipping over to Great Wyrley on an errand, I hopped onto the canal at Silver Street which was, quite frankly a mistake – the towpaths were waterlogged and muddy.

However, I was pleased to spot at the marina just by Tesco a goosander pair who seemed quite at home with the Canada geese watching on.

These fish eating birds are fascinating, beautiful and hard to photograph as they move and dive quickly.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen any in this spot before.

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#365daysofbiking Thats one heck of a goose grumble going on

March 4th – You need to turn the sound up for this one.

I was returning from work early for me, before it was dark. Passing the new pond in Clayhanger, a couple of swans landed out of sight on the water, then took flight again. The geese, mallards and other waterfowl were clearly not happy about something.

There even seems to be what I think might be an owl shouting to them to keep the noise down!

I love the sounds of birds like this. The only loud birds we heard here as a kid were crows.

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June 13th – One of the more fascinating things about the commonly derided and scorned Canada goes is their propensity to social support between families.

On the way home from work this evening, four adults (one dallying out of shot) and two broods of goslings numbering a dizzying total of 12 youngsters in two distinct stages of growth indicated that two families were hanging out together and probably sharing childminding and security duties.

Can’t think of any other wild birds that do this.

Lovely to see, and I got hissed at in quadrophonic!