Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Goslings and springtime

Hello! It's been a while since I posted on here; I've had a busy few weeks with exams and a holiday in North Yorkshire (more on that in another post). Excitingly, I was also Blogger of the Month in the May edition of the BBC Discover Wildlife Magazine, which printed extracts from my post on the solar eclipse. This was incredible (and very unexpected considering I've only been blogging since February), so a big thank you to everyone at the magazine! I've been posting my blog updates on their local patch reporter forum since I started writing. There are lots of absolutely fantastic wildlife and nature bloggers on there, as well as information on how to get involved, so it's well worth having a look!

We have greylag, Canada and snow geese on campus, as well as the barnacle geese in this picture.
Unfortunately, the weeks I've not had much time to post blogs have coincided with the weeks with lots going on for wildlife on campus. The lake has been filled with nesting birds all term (I've got a post on a family of great crested grebes and a coot family coming up soon) but over the past few weeks it's really come to life. The University of York is famous for its geese (when I told people where I was going to uni, the standard response was "oh, I had a friend there. Visited once. Geese everywhere.") so unsurprisingly the campus has been absolutely covered in goslings. It's been absolutely brilliant.

A greylag gosling in the daisies outside my halls
At this point I probably need to say that you should always be careful with geese. The adults can be aggressive at the best of times, and will be even more so if protecting a nest or goslings. So please, don't get too close, don't startle them and keep an eye out for any obviously threatening body language. Otherwise, you might end up getting chased down a path by some, like a friend and I did! I've forgiven them though. I mean, look at them.

Geese are great because, aside from the goslings basically being little balls of fluff, guaranteed to cheer you up on the way to an exam, they are incredibly easy to see. Like ducks, they are pretty much everywhere, not just on my campus, but out in the wider world too. This is, in my opinion, fantastic- wildlife is on everyone's doorsteps in one form or another, and no species is less worthwhile or interesting for being common.

The geese were also really interesting to watch from a behaviour perspective. As the goslings got older, the number of adults with them got less. I was curious about this, so decided to do some reading. Having a larger group of young in a crèche is well recorded in a range of waterfowl species, including geese, although the evolutionary reasons for this are not always clear- if you'd like to know more technical details, this paper is great, although quite long. 

A creche of older goslings
This post has focused on the geese, but I've got lots more on other campus wildlife and the things I got up to on holiday coming up soon. For now, I hope you enjoyed the goslings!

 Have you had goslings, or any other spring babies, where you are? I'd love to hear your stories in the comments!

Alexandra xx

The paper I used for reading about crèche behaviour in geese is here:

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