A fable for Father’s Day

More a tale of natural history. I live overlooking a lake. Not a great lake but neither is it a pool or a pond. It was recently redesignated a lagoon and has two small islands in the middle, which seem to be the safest place for the coots to nest. It is known as Duck Lake because of the mallards who are unashamed scroungers. They have been spoilt by the little humans who go to feed the ducks. At the sight of any human, they expect to be fed and make a beeline towards them. Next in the pecking order are the geese that are very wary of humans and very protective of their goslings. The swans are at the apex, even though they are but a couple. With their regal manner they go swanning about and all the other water fowl give way. Every bird knows its place and they co-exist peacefully.

My story is about the geese who like to nest in the reeds around the edge of the lake. When they pair up they seem to be faithful and monogamous. The older ganders are exceedingly protective of their partner and the goslings when they hatch out. My nearest geese neighbours are noticeable because of the gander that I have nicknamed gimpy. One of his webbed feet is missing so he is distinctive. On land he limps along on his stump and on water he seems to have a natural tendency to swim in circles. They had a happy event recently with the arrival of six fluffy goslings.

Mum is usually at the front as they go grazing on the grass, with dad always on hand to ward off any danger. One of the goslings seems to get engrossed with grazing and becomes detached, but with one call from dad it scampers back. They were soon ready to take to the water and make an impressive sight as they form up on mum in a vee formation with dad weaving about at the rear to fend off any fowls that get too close. I think this must be practice for when they start to fly as they adopt the same formation.

Despite gimpy’s diligence they were soon down to five goslings and I am guessing that a predator had snatched one of them. I do not mean foxes or hawks; the chief suspects are prowling domestic cats. Gimpy is a great dad, one of nature’s instinctive fathers. I look forward to the family’s progress and hope to see the couple next year after their ‘flight of the wild geese’. I am sure that ‘all his geese are swans’ to borrow the old saying. That is, he refuses to believe that there are any faults in them.

They do have one advantage. There are no gay geese activists trying to rearrange the natural order. Nature is wonderful.


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