Egyptian Geese are from Egypt-right?

Egyptian GooseAt this time of year I am delighted and annoyed by the arrival of hordes of Egyptian Geese that descend onto Fish Hoek sports field.

Delighted- because they are beautiful, interesting and funny birds.

Annoyed- it isn’t the birds’ fault, they turn grass into guano, and they haven’t been supplied with enclosed toilets yet, which was an issue raised at the last election, but nothing has been done about it yet. (I digress.) The masses of goose poop are irresistible to our female Labrador and so any walk on the fields is spent making sure she doesn’t sneak a bite. It wouldn’t be so bad, and could save a fortune on kibbles, but she tends to throw up all over the floor in the middle of the night, and it stinks to high hell.

What ever my thoughts on the subject the geese I am sure don’t care. And I hadn’t really thought about them beyond that. One day I was walking around the playing fields with my Father, and we were discussing where the Geese come from.

Maybe some background information will help explain our mindset. We are from northern England. Most of the winter birds on our local lakes are migratory, especially the geese. So we are naturally inclined to believe that all winter visitors to an area are from somewhere far away. Further, most migratory ducks and geese migrate huge distances. In the northern hemisphere they are usually escaping the harsh winter weather in the arctic. Which doesn’t help explain why they are here, it is summer in the north, and there is nowhere for them to come from to the south. There are a few islands out there but I don’t remember seeing anything on national Geographic about Egyptian Geese breeding on South Georgia.

As with all things unexplained I turned to the internet for help and did a search on the migratory habits of these birds. What I found was absolutely nothing- other than general information such as that Egyptian Geese are not even truly geese, they are actually classified as a type of shelduck. They are also endemic throughout sub-Saharan Africa, including the Nile- hence the name. Also, the geese mate for life.

Most revealing of all is that they particularly like eating juicy grass! It is obvious that they are on the sports field to eat the grass, but why here and why now, and where were they in the summer?

Lacking specific information I pieced this hypothesis together from what I did find out. The geese have not migrated from anywhere, they were simply spending the summer on local lakes and ponds. During the summer the grass doesn’t grow much, and the lack of water makes it dry and unappetizing. Also the birds have young to care for, which is easier for them on water as their chicks cannot fly away. As soon as the grass is growing and the chicks have flown the nest they descend on the sports field for a winter feast of lovely fresh grass.

If anyone out there is a twitcher with better information then please let me know so that I can write an article based on fact rather than speculation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe without commenting