Posie's Blog. Tales of island life on a hebridean hill farm

Posie's Blog. Tales of island life on a hebridean hill farm

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Treading on egg shells....ever so quietly


I was walking on egg shells this morning. The sun was splitting the skies and we woke to a field full of barnacle geese grazing away. The happy farmer was delighted, as in the winter months ‘goose counters’ travel around the island in a land rover counting the geese in the fields on the various farms.

Today the goose counters were coming our way, and the geese were actually present and correct for once, finally timing their visit to coincide with the goose counters’ visit. The counters call by most weeks. However the geese seem to have this well sussed and appear to take great delight in playing a game of hide and seek with those counters, much to the frustration of the happy farmer. They fly in, a huge black cloud of them, circling in the skies, before swooping down to land in the fields, and always when there are no counters to be seen. They seem to time their tasty bite to perfection, always flying away well before the counters’ land rover cruises up the single track road, or at times choosing not even to make an appearance on the day the goose count is due. In fact those geese seem to have a positive aversion to the goose counters, or so it seems on our farm, and yet those geese hardly bat a wing when I run past through the fields.

I was warned by the happy farmer not to make any noise that might disturb our welcome guests as I left to take youngest to school. I duly opened and closed the front door with great care and warned youngest to be really quiet as we made our way to the jeep. Door quietly closed we crept along the front of the house when suddenly the air was filled with loud squawking and cackling and the din of flapping wings as hundreds of geese flew up from the field and into the sky just as we got ever so quietly into the jeep. Youngest and I looked at one another, me in horror, her with a huge grin on her face. We need not have worried though, those geese were just teasing, merely stretching their wings, as they flew up into the sky, gabbling away, before sauntering ever so gracefully back down into the field once again. I quickly drove off to the school, and on my return the geese were still in place, thank goodness and not too much later the land rover made its way up the single track road and I could at last relax knowing those geese had been counted and were all present and correct, exactly where they were meant to be for the goose counters’ visit.

Until next time....

18 comments:

Elizabethd said...

I wonder what they do with the results of the counting?

Chris Stovell said...

Naughty geese, teasing you like that! That's a ravishing photo of the sky.

mollygolver said...

Lovely pictures Posie. I think those geese know who their friends are! We have wild geese flying over in the Autumn as they migrate. It's a real joy to watch them

Preseli Mags said...

Stunning photos (I clicked them to see the large versions). I love the fact that every single goose has its head down, eating. Naughty of them to be such teases though.

potterjotter said...

Well, we all have our daily trials and tribulations but I can honestly say that that's not one I have ever had personal experience of ... sounds exasperating! Lovely pics.

Frances said...

Posie, not for the first time, you have taught me something. This time around, I learn that there is such a thing as a geese census. Are official counts done of other animals round your area?

Glad the geese played along with the game this time. xo

Pondside said...

:)
I loved the image of your horrified face at at the thought of the birds flying away! Too funny!

Fennie said...

I wonder how you count geese? And do you drop off to sleep, I wonder? And what happens when geese and sheep share the same field. And are you allowed to take one for the pot? Would you want to, or are they horribly oily? What do they want in the fields - is it the grass? But what kind of sustenance can they find at this time of year? Do you welcome them because of what they leave behind? And do they shed feathers like domestic geese? Shouldn't they be starting to nest by now?

Questions, questions - if you were driving me to school in that jeep, Posie, I'm afraid that this is what I should be annoying you by asking.

bayou said...

For one moment, I thought that they were throwing 'bombs' when flying over your car...
Naughty birds they are :-)
We have Egyptian nile geese since the bird flu. They were let out from a place in Germany and have since settled here and multiplied. They fly every morning and evening over the pond looking for a good place to stay. Very noisy birds.:-)

Posie said...

Elizabeth - they are keeping a check on the goose population, barnacle geese are quite rare and most of them come to our island for the winter months. The scheme also pays out compensation to farmers for the geese eating their crops.
Frances- the RSPB observes and counts several species of birds on the island as we have many rare breeds living here at various times during the year. There are protection schemes in place and so on.

Posie said...

Fennie - they sit in the land rover with binoculars and literally count the geese. I wonder if they ever cheat!!(I am sure they must drop off to sleep esp with all the sheep milling about too lol)The geese quite happily share a field with the sheep, munching the readies on offer, the grass. They can strip a field bare, and reseeded fields have flags in them to try and discourage the geese as they pull up the roots.

Norma Murray said...

Does counting geese make you go to sleep, like counting sheep I wonder.

Claire said...

Hey Posie, have had a lovely visit and browse through your blog.
It's interesting to read how folks live on the other side of the world. Here in Oz we count sheep, so goose counting's a new one to me........

Visited your part of the world back in 2007, must almost be time for another. So many beautiful places, just not enough time or money.........

Love the photographs.

Enjoy your weekend, Claire :}

Posie said...

Norma - I am sure those goose counters must nod off!!
Claire - thank you for visiting my blog. Love the profile pic. Glad you liked the photos, you must let me know which parts of Scotland you visited.
Posie

MILLY said...

Most mornings I can hear the geese on the shore, we think they are Canada geese, or Greylag.
Your Barnacle geese have had an odd sighting here, rare this far down. It caused great excitement and was featured in the local paper.
Lovely photograph of the geese.

jane said...

Posie there is nothing like the call of geese as they fly over -through the mist we get a lot of Canadian geese round here and some Greylag but the Barnacle is quite rare - round here - well to me anyway - but I did not know they had goose counts until I visited your blog x

Fennie said...

Posie I am still wrestling with these great flocks of geese, which fly (and so must need a deal of energy) eating the winter grass. Surely there's no a ha'porth of sustenance in that. Or do they eat fish as well? I wonder if geese are better converters of grass than sheep - if they are it might be simpler if we ate the geese and wore feather coats. Wool has largely been replace by acrylics anyway, at least in Marks and Spencer.

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