Mobbed by hungry geese

I want to have a duckling for my birthday!

I was just surfing the net when I came across this picture of a baby mallard. Isn’t it the cutest duckling you’ve ever seen?


Mallard duckling


So want a pet duckling!

But then I’d need a house to go with it. =(


I had a pet duckling a long time ago. A school friend knew a farmer who was giving them away and she scored one for me. I kept it in my HDB flat.

It was so very cute, one of those yellow ones, but it made a righteous din. It honked nonstop in the middle of the night until the neighbours complained.

I had to give it back before the week was over.


I’ve always liked ducks, especially ducklings. I don’t like them as food so much, cos their meat is tough. So I will not be plagued with guilt when I have them as pets.

Until I do have a pet duckling, though, I have to satisfy my anatidae nurturing impulse by feeding the waterfowl at Poole Park. It’s possibly my favourite activity in England, right next to watching an entire season of 24 within 27 hours.


Feeding geese at Poole Park


In Poole Park, you can find mallards, Canada geese and swans. The mallards are the shyest of the lot, prefering to keep a distance. But the geese and swans will come right up to you to beg for food.

The geese are the most shameless and I was so thrilled to be mobbed by them.

But when I looked at my photos on my laptop later, I saw a sign which neither Piers nor I saw when we were at the park, because it is so damned tiny.


This is the magnified version:

Don't feed Canada geese!


“Please don’t feed Canada geese,” it says.

There are many signs like this one spread around the ponds and lakes at the park, but they might as well not be there because no one can read them unless they’re using binoculars.

To illustrate just how small they are, here’s a perspective photo:


Invisible sign at Poole Park


See the little sign in the middle of the water with a silly bird standing on it?

So there I was, happy feeding the geese with bagels and bread, oblivious to the miniscule sign placed three metres away that only Superman can read.

I found out later that parks discourage the feeding of Canada geese because these migratory birds cause overcrowding and pollution, and when people feed them, it makes them overstay.

Some parks also discourage feeding any waterfowl at all because bread isn’t so good for them and excess food causes pollution and spread of diseases.

Poole Park does allow people to feed the ducks, swans and fish; they sell food for those.


Poole Park Railway


Yeah, that’s a railway station, lol. You can pay about £2 to ride on a little train around the park. The trains have cute names like Desmond the Diesel Engine and George the Steam Train.

Anyway, since I have already fed the geese, here are the photos!


Feeding geese at Poole Park


Feeding geese at Poole Park


Feeding geese at Poole Park


Feeding geese at Poole Park


Feeding geese at Poole Park


I didn’t feed a lot because we only had three slices of bread and one bagel.

Piers said we could only use leftover bread that was going to expire or had just expired because that’s what everyone does.

I ignored him and took our last fresh bagel, figuring that it was just one piece, so he shouldn’t mind too much.

It was disappointing how the geese chomped everything up so quickly I had nothing left for the swans and ducks.

So, the next day, I made Piers buy a whole loaf of bread just to feed the swans with. It was going to be my last fun activity before flying back to Singapore. (He refused to buy bagels for them.)

We went back to Poole Park the day before I left England.

I was conscious about not feeding the geese, so we went to Swan Lake, where there were only swans.


Feeding swans at Poole Park


I offered the entire loaf to a curious swan to see what would happen. It tried to peck at it but, of course, the loaf was too big, lol.


Feeding swans at Poole Park


I had to tear out strips to feed it. Long strips, because the swans would get really excited and overshoot their aim, ending up eating my fingers as well as the bread.


Feeding swans at Poole Park


After a while, a few more swans came to join in the feast and Piers took over feeding duty.

He likes throwing the bread at them to see if they can catch it.


Feeding swans at Poole Park


We didn’t feed them too much. Piers said the swans shouldn’t eat too much junk food, which is what bread is for them. They’re really supposed to eat grains or vegetables, which is what we’ll bring the next time.


Feeding swans at Poole Park


We walked away to feed other swans at the other side of the lake but our swans started following us!


Feeding swans at Poole Park


They seemed to like the bread very much. Each time a swan got one piece, it would dunk it in the water to make it soggy and gross before eating it up.

There weren’t many swans out that day. After a while, we decided to walk to other ponds and lakes in the park to find more waterfowl to feed.

Piers looked really funny holding the half-eaten loaf of bread as we walked around, lol.

I slyly took a photo of him when he went to get my coat from the car. Haha.


Piers holding a loaf of bread


I tried to feed some mallards next but it’s so hard to get them to take food out your hands. They’re so suspicious! I was lucky this one even allowed me to get so close to it.


Trying to feed a mallard


Suddenly, a group of Cananda geese swam to us from the other side of the pond. They jumped out, walked towards us and tried to get at our bread!

We had to say, “You can’t have any, sorry!” and walk away.

It was really quite sad.

The problem was that the geese were everywhere in the park (except Swan Lake) so it was hard to feed anything without them trying to crash the party.

But then we found a group of teenage geese and couldn’t resist feeding them. They kept following us!

We only gave them a bit!


Teenage Cananda geese


Teenage Cananda goose


Cananda goose


Teenage Cananda goose


Piers feeds a goose


Anyway, it was hard to find anything else to feed since the ducks were shy and the geese were so aggressively greedy.

We had to go back to Swan Lake to finish using up the bread.

The swans welcomed us very warmly.


Feeding swans at Swan Lake


Feeding swans at Swan Lake


So did the seagulls!

There was suddenly a whole mob of them, flying overhead, swooping down to steal the bread we tossed at the swans.

It was crazy. I was afraid of being shat on, lol!


Feeding swans at Swan Lake


Didn’t happen, luckily.

I got shat on by a pigeon one day when Piers and I were at the town centre on the way to dinner.

Fortunately not on my head, but on my coat sleeve. I used up half a packet of wet wipes to get it off and then sent the coat off to the dry cleaners.

I only like waterfowl. Don’t like birds so much.

Ducklings! =D


Cute duckling


Trying to hug a swan

Alright, then.

By popular demand (of one), we shall do a swan post today. If you haven’t already, read my previous post — Bitten by a swan — because that one is better than this one.

But then come back here again because she will be sad if you don’t:


Swans at Poole Park


I had a conversation with Piers about swans in England last Saturday when we visited Poole Park. There’s a popular attraction at the park called Swan Lake, which lures throngs of visitors daily to help keep the waterfowl population alive with stale bread.

Anyway, the conversation went something like this:

Me: I love the swans in England! They’re so friendly and nice!!

Piers: What? Friendly? They tried to eat you alive!

Me: They didn’t. They were just saying hello.

Piers: They bit you!

Me: Just a nibble.

Piers: They are violent, manic creatures from your darkest nightmare!

Me: No, not really.


Swans at Poole Park


So, obviously, Piers and I had very different ideas how our day should proceed.

His itinerary was to try his best not to get his arm broken.

My plan was to try and hug a swan.

He tried to warn me that their wings are so strong they can break an adult human arm with a swipe. So I did some Googling and found that it’s a thing all English parents tell their kids, but no one is really sure whether it’s true or not.

The swans at Swan Lake seem pretty sweet to me. They come up to you when you approach, expecting food. If you fail to give them any, they bugger off.


Swans at Poole Park


Okay, fine, that isn’t so sweet, but it’s smart, so that’s something.

We didn’t bring any bread because we had just been driving around aimlessly when the sun came out and the day turned beautiful and Piers thought it would be a good idea to take me to Poole Park.


Swans at Poole Park


Perhaps he thought to feed me to the swans as a quick and easy way to deal with my overstaying in England.

Especially since I’m breaking his furniture piece by piece when he’s not looking.

In my defence, it’s really hard work, breaking furniture. Takes months of training in Wing Chun to break wood with bare hands.


Unfortunately for Piers, I’m quite sure the swans love me, even if I didn’t have any bread, so they weren’t about to eat me.


Swans at Poole Park


The lure of bread was too great, though. I had almost succeeded in hugging this one unsuspecting swan when he suddenly discovered that his brothers and sisters were having fun playing Catch with bits of bread tossed in the air.

Without him!


Swans at Poole Park


Immediately, he belly flopped into the water and swam off to join in the fun.

Just as well. Maybe I don’t really want to be the one to find out for sure whether these pretty birds can karate chop my arm right off.


Swans at Poole Park


So, you see, swans are entirely bribable, which makes them nice and sweet.

(Note that this premise does not apply to humankind. Bribable humans are not likely to be nice and sweet, so keep your stale bread to yourself.)

((Give them the mouldy ones, instead.))

Next time, I’ll hug a swan for real. After I buy some body armour. And expensive French bread to sweeten the deal.

I mean, it might be a myth, swans breaking arms, but one can never be too safe.

Now, enjoy the rest of the photos! =)


Swans at Poole Park
Swans enjoy dunking their heads into the water for ages.


Swans at Poole Park
Waiting on the road to be the first to receive bread donations.


Swans at Poole Park
This one swan among the rest had an almost colourless beak. Felt sorry for him, somewhat.


Swans at Poole Park
No bread.


Swans at Poole Park
This is how you walk a swan.


Swans at Poole Park
Beautiful Swan Lake.


Swans at Poole Park
Swans, seagulls and geese sharing a meal of grain.


Swans at Poole Park
Family feeding the birds.


Swans at Poole Park
Seagull riding on the back of a swan as the swan herd crowd around the family.


Swans at Poole Park
Lone ranging swan decides to come for the feast.



I promise this will be the last swan post.

For a while, anyway.

Feel free to make more demands for more swan posts, though. For example, perhaps someone would like to see Piers get eaten by a swan? Things like that.

Piers is a very nice, accommodating fellow, so I’m sure he won’t mind helping me with that post!

Cheers! =)