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 Egyptian Goose - Fact File

Egyptian Goose

 

Alopochen aegyptiacus
Introduced African species, now with well established feral populations chiefly in East Anglia.
Freshwater lakes and grassy parkland.

Decidedly odd looking! Pale head and underparts with dark eye-patch and pink legs.

68cm (27")
 

Egyptian Goose

Television wildlife programmes of African big game crowding water-holes regularly feature passing shots of birds. And the most regularly portrayed is the Egyptian goose introduced to this country three centuries ago.

It soon became a familiar ornamental waterfowl. In Victorian times full-winged freely breeding colonies were established on the lakes of such estates as Blickling, Gunton, Holkham and Kimberley. Yet surprisingly despite an ability to disperse over comparatively large areas it is only in Norfolk a substantial feral population of Egyptians has been maintained.

In fact, according to The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust the county holds over 90 per cent of the national population of some 900 birds. One wonders why the geese are so reluctant to spread from their original stronghold.

The main concentration of this alien waterfowl is in magnificent Holkham Park where recent counts have totalled as many as 170 birds. In addition up to 85 have become established in Flitcham/Hillington/West Newton triangle on the Babingley river. Further concentrations may be found along the upper Wensum and on the Broadland Bure and Ant river.

In their tropical African home Egyptian geese frequent rivers, marshes and lakes resorting to a wide range of nesting sites. Cavities and holes in trees and abandoned nests of other birds may be selected; also ledges on cliffs and banks.

The clutches of eight or nine eggs hatch after about four weeks. The downy chicks are similar in markings to those of the shelduck. Often only one or two young survive locally following predation by crows and competition with Canada geese and grey-lag geese.

Egyptian geese are at home in trees, regularly perching and even roosting there. Tree nests are well known. Norfolk's feral birds haunt lakes and stretches of river in wooded parkland, the Broads and Breckland meres.

Attractively marked, particularly in flight when distinctive white wing-coverts are revealed, Egyptian geese draw attention to themselves in the coming months with noisy displays and fierce territorial fighting both afloat and ashore.

Rivals stand or swim, breast to breast, continually attempting to seize each other's backs near the base of the neck while beating with wings and even striking with feet. Following egg laying, the birds almost disappear until the time comes to escort flotillas of goslings to the water.

.By Michael J Seago

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Copyright Information

  • Article: © Eastern Counties Newspapers Group
  • Illustrations by Dave Nurney from - The Pocket Guide to the Birds Of Britain and North-West Europe By Chris Kightley and Steve Madge © Pica Press and reproduced with kind permission.
  • Other material: © Birds Of Britain