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.
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).
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.
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.
“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.”
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* All pictures on this page © Tom Murphy. Most photographs are available, for sale, in bigger formats.
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