Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Beautiful Birds: Egyptian Goose at Ickworth

We noticed an unusual goose in a Suffolk field adjoining the Ickworth Estate. It was a good distance away and the light was poor, but from these record shots I have been able to identify it as an Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus).

Ickworth (taken March 2012)

This species was brought in to Britain to grace the ponds and parks of our estates. A number of these 'ornamental' geese escaped and bred successfully in the wild, particularly in Norfolk.

Egyptian Geese are now considered a feral species, and in this respect I am reminded of the white farmyard-escape ducks that I saw last month at Needham Market. The white (?Pekin) ducks were interacting with Mallards, and I have just read that Egyptian Geese also interbreed - or hybridise - with Mallards.

I am surprised to find that in certain circumstances (or so it seems) ducks and geese pair with one another. Do take a look at the Hybrid Duck page on the Go Birding site for a photo of an Egyptian Goose x Mallard. You might care to look here for as more detailed page on these hybrids.

I am reminded of Nobel Prize-winner, Konrad Lorenz, and his discoveries of imprinting (also a short YouTube here), the way in which a creature - and the duck and goose apparently are particularly good examples - follows the actions of the first other creature it sees after its birth. You may remember the recent TV footage of the Greylag geese flying after their human surrogate ('imprinted') father.

The Egyptian Goose is apparently related to the Shelduck.

Shelduck (taken in 2010 at WWT Llanelli)


Crafty Green Poet said...

I think mallards will breed with almost anything given the weird plumage variations that turn up (though I think there's a lot of variation within mallards because they've been domesticated). That page of hybrids is really useful though.

Em Parkinson said...

That Shelduck is very funny. I don't think I've ever seen either.