Sunday, 29 September 2013

Greylag Goose

 Greylag Goose, Anser anser is the ancestor of domesticated geese in Europe and North America. Flocks of feral birds derived from domesticated birds are widespread.  Within science, the Greylag Goose is most notable as being the bird with which the ethologist Konrad Lorenz first did his major studying into the behavioural phenomenon of imprinting.

While walking through the park beside  my home, Ward Park, I took these photographs and video.  Throughout the photos I will intersperse some information.


The Greylag is the largest and bulkiest of the grey geese of the genus Anser.  It has a rotund, bulky body, a thick and long neck, and a large head and bill.  It has pink legs and feet, and an orange or pink bill.  
It is 29 to 36 ins long with a wing length of 16.2 to 19 ins. It has a tail 2.4 to 2.7 ins a bill of 2.5 to 2.7 ins long, and a tarsus of 2.8 to 3.7 ins. It weighs 2.16 to 4.8 to 10.1 lb, with a mean weight of around 7.3 lbs. The wingspan is 58 to 71 ins. 
Males are generally larger than females.


The plumage of the Greylag Goose is greyish-brown, with a darker head and paler belly with variable black spots. Its plumage is patterned by the pale fringes of its feathers. It has a white line bordering its upper flanks. Its coverts are lightly coloured, contrasting with its darker flight feathers. Juveniles differ mostly in their lack of a black-speckled belly.


In the UK, Greylag Geese breed from the beginning of April to May, laying usually five to eight eggs in a large nest amongst floating vegetation or hidden in reeds.  The incubation period is about 28 days and, unlike many species of waterfowl, the male goose or gander stays with the family group.  

Geese, in fact, have a more cohesive family unit than ducks and both parents guard the goslings against attacks from other birds or predatory mammals.  The Greylag Goose family continues to remain together throughout the year and will migrate from their wintering grounds as a group within a larger flock.  Only when the adult birds are ready to establish a new breeding territory will the gander drive off the previous year’s young birds.





Geese are primarily grazing birds, although they also take grain, root crops and leafy vegetation. Geese have relatively short bills, and prefer pasture or meadows that are grazed by cattle or sheep.  A flock of geese will work their away across the fields, nibbling the more nutritious growing shoots of the grass or cereal crop. Grass, by itself, is not particularly high in nutrients, and geese have to eat almost continuously in order to gain any nourishment from it. 
To allow these bulky birds to be able to take-off in an emergency, they process this grass at a remarkable rate.  The birds defecate almost continuously whilst grazing so that their gut is not weighed down with food and they can still make a quick getaway if danger threatens.





Greylag geese are a migratory species and their breeding and wintering range extends across much of Europe and Asia.  Greylags breed in Iceland, around the North Sea and Baltic coasts of Scandinavia, Finland and Northern Europe, and southwards through central Eastern Europe and western Russia as far south as the Black Sea.  Winter populations range from the Iberian east coast, across southern Europe and Asia Minor, through the Himalayas and Thailand to the China Sea.


In Great Britain, their numbers had declined as a breeding bird, retreating north to breed wild only in the Outer Hebrides and the northern mainland of Scotland. However, during the 20th century, feral populations have been established elsewhere, and they have now re-colonised much of England. The breeding habitat is a variety of wetlands including marshes, lakes, and damp heather moors.



In Norway, the number of Greylag Geese is estimated to have increased three- to five fold during the last 15–20 years. As a consequence, farmers' problems caused by goose grazing on farmland has increased considerably. This problem is also evident for the pink-footed goose.


This is a close up of their feathers.

 
This species is one of the last to migrate, and the "lag" portion of its name is said to derive from this lagging behind other geese.


Close up of their feet and legs.






Now don't tell the geese this!!!  

Traditionally eaten at Michaelmas, Mrs Beeton recommends cooking with a glass of port or wine to which has been added a teaspoon of mustard, some salt and a few grains of cayenne pepper. 


It has a loud cackling call, HOOOOOONK!, like the domestic goose.
The video can be accessed at

http://youtu.be/cZtbUpEHmUk

If there is a black space below, Click it and the video will appear.



I hope you enjoyed this post.  I am just back from the weekend away without internet access so have not been able to look at any blogs.

Thank you for visiting.

Thispost islinked to The D'pot

35 comments:

  1. You are correct Margaret in that most people do not realise that the wild Greylag is the source of the weird and wonderful things they see in local parks etc. I think your information is brilliant, not to mention yor superb photos.

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    1. Hi Phil You areso kind with your comments and it is a great encouragement to me. I am glad you enjoyed these informative posts.

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  2. They are starting to arrive back from wherever. I enjoy hearing them leaving their roosts. Just as well as they must be the worlds noisiest bird.

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    1. Hi Adrian Hope you enjoyed the post. I am just home from the weekend away. I was supposed to be on Copeland Island but the boat broke down so I went down to my 'old' carravan as the weather was brilliant.

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    2. The weather is wonderful....yes i enjoyed the post. I learn't things I never knew so thank you.

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  3. that first shot is adorable! what a cute little face!

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    1. HI Tex Glad you liked the first shot best and thanks for comment.

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  4. We have the greylags here, but they are very shy and my pictures are really bad compared to yours. Your snaps are really excellent and now I can finally see them up close!!! The info is fascinating, especially about the fast getaways. Pictures one, two, and four are my favorite, beside the wonderful one where he is taking off, that is an amazing shot!!!

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    1. HI Ginny Glad you liked the Greylag and information and thanks for comments.

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  5. Oh....these images leave me nearly speechless Margaret!!! Each and every ONE is stunning in its own way. What a marvelous series.

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    1. HI Anni Glad you liked the Greylag shots and information and thanks for comments.

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  6. Beautiful pictures ;-)
    Céline & Philippe

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    1. HI Celine & Philippe Glad you liked the Greylag and information and thanks for comments.

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  7. Fabulous photos, Margaret. Love the orange eye ring.

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    1. Hi Linda Glad you liked the orange ring of the Greylag and information and thanks for comments.

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  8. Love them - and the 'water off a goose's back' in the video too. Thank you.

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    1. HI EC Glad you liked the Greylag shots, video and information and thanks for comments.

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  9. I think how lovely to have this waterland/park next to your home to explore as often as you wish. The photos of these geese show how superb they are Margaret. Can you hear them when at home?

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    1. HI Carole I can only heard them when they fly over even though the park is only 2 minutes away. Glad you liked the Greylag and information and thanks for comments.

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  10. Beautiful images. I like seeing all the detail in the feathers.

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    1. HI Ruth Glad you liked the details of the feather in the Greylag and information and thanks for comments.

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  11. Thanks for sharing the info and your wonderful photos of the cute Geese. I do not believe I have seen one yet.

    Happy birding and enjoy your week!

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    1. Hi Eileen Glad you liked the Greylag and information and thanks for comments. Perhaps someday you will see them in the wild.

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  12. That first shot is a wonderful portrait of this goose!
    I smiled at the pink feet with brown nails.
    Thanks for the superb info.

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    1. HI Carletta Glad you liked the Greylag and information and thanks for comments. Our Greylad are very fussy about their appearance and that includes their nails!!

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  13. They are so beautiful aren't they, thanks Margaret.

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    1. Hi Bob Beautiful they are. Glad you liked the Greylag and information and thanks for comments.

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  14. Beautiful photos with some very nice reflections. Have a great day, Margaret!

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    1. HI Gunilla Glad you liked the Greylag reflections and information. Thanks for comments.

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  15. Such wonderful photos! Absolutely amazing! I love the reflections on the water!

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    1. HI Mary Glad you liked the Greylag reflections,the information and thanks for comments.

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  16. Great photos of the Greylag Goose Margaret. They have pretty eyes too don't they?

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    1. HI Denise Glad you liked the Greylag, the information and thanks for comments. Yes, I am trying to remember when I take photographs, to do close ups of parts of a bird as we so often don't look at these bits.

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  17. Great photos Margaret! So much interesting information also. We see these geese in southern California, but I really didn't know exactly what they were. Now I know and I think you!

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