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Odd couple swim beak to beak at WWT Slimbridge

Odd couple swim beak to beak at WWT Slimbridge

AS breeding season gets in full swing there is one couple on the ponds at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre which stands out from the crowd.

A male bar-headed goose has seemingly fallen in love with a female mallard duck and is doing everything in his power to protect her.

He follows her closely at all times and fiercely chases away any geese or ducks which dare to come within half a metre of her. 

The pair is on the swan lake area immediately outside the visitor centre so they are attracting a lot of attention.

James Lees, reserve warden, said: “It is really unusual, I have certainly never seen anything like it in my time here.  I’m not sure whether he thinks he is a mallard or whether he thinks she is a bar-headed goose but I guess they say love is blind.

“He seems to get most protective over her when he sees another goose come near her.  She doesn’t seem to mind him following her or else she would fly away from him so I think she likes him too.

“Geese generally like to stay on land so he is doing a lot more swimming than usual to make sure he is close to her. 

“It will be interesting now to see whether she has any offspring.  Although there has been recorded on very rare occasions goose hybrids, this is extremely unlikely and it is far more likely she will have bred with a mallard at some point and have normal young.

“Then we will be interested to see whether he will turn from a jealous admirer to a protective foster dad!”


Explore Gloucestershire
15 April 2010

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