Big bad boss bird beats up proud baby family in Victoria Park pond

© Tom Murphy 080319
Down the Swannee? The goose’s gander looks cooked as the aggressor moves in

THIS SERIES of photographs shows that even on the calm waters of a rustic-looking park in the capital, violence in nature is never far away.

The players in the drama shown here, photographed by actor Tom Murphy, are Egyptian geese with a supporting cast of seven  and, in the role of villain, a mute swan.

The Egyptian goslings had hatched, said Murphy, early this month March 2019. One overcast day they were contentedly paddling across the pond in Victoria Park, NE London, when the swan flapped over the water towards them. Murphy, who lives by the Regent’s Canal not far away, immediately reached for his camera, a Nikon D3400 with a 70mm-300mm lens.

© Tom Murphy 080319
Gotcha! The mute swan corners the Egyptian. Goslings flee

He recognised the swan as the male that had killed one of its own full-grown offspring at the boating lake last autumn 2018.

A David-Goliath case of good v bad? Not quite: Egyptian geese were brought here in an era when imperialist aggression led the British to take over whole countries and take home whatever they fancied: flora and fauna (as well as people).

© Tom Murphy
Captured, the little goose looks terrified. Is the end near?

The Egyptian did not come here of its own accord, as have, eg, the great egret; it was in effect kidnapped, removed from its environment and forced to adapt to a cold northern climate.

What makes a male mute swan so aggressive? Ornithologist David Darrell-Lambert told Loving Dalston the Egyptian geese and their young had swum into the swan’s territory. The species will, he explained, chase away geese, swans and other big waterfowl. 

© Tom Murphy 080319
…but the Egyptian’s magic-carpet manoeuvre leaves the swan mute with disappointment

The royal twitcher and director of Brain UK said: “They will even kill the other species. This is normal behaviour. They don’t attack ducks.

“Egyptian goose were brought here by the Victorians — who are also responsible for Canada geese. 

© Tom Murphy 080319
Flashback: the start of the family excursion on the lake

“Egyptian geese will nest throughout the year and, like mallard [ducks], typically in trees.” The mallard’s population in England was decreasing.

He added: “Egyptian geese are rapidly expanding across the country and are likely to be the next threat to our native species.”

David Altheer 120319

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