Tuesday 2 June 2015

Egyptian Goose

We took a trip out to Bushy Park last week. It's one of eight Royal Parks around London and for tourist purposes it's located opposite the back (and free) entrance to Hampton Court Palace Gardens. As I was on the hunt for rhododendrons we headed off to the Woodland Gardens. Amongst the many fine varieties of rhododendrons (I'll tell you more about them later in the week) are a number of ponds and water channels.
Whilst we were walking back to the main area I was stopped by the sight of a pair of mallard ducks. The male looked exactly how it should be but the female was black and white rather than the normal brown. I've tried to do some searches for the reason for this strange plumage but all I found was images of female mallards in black and white. I spent quite a bit of time trying to get a decent photograph of this duck but she was completely preoccupied with cleaning her wings, diving under the water and flapping the water off her back. While I waiting I then spotted only about 5m away from me something far more different than what I usually see in such wetlands.
At the risk of sounding a bird snob if you find any patch of water whether it is river, lake or pond in England you will most likely come across mallards, coots and moorhens. Not surprisingly at the end of one of the ponds was a heron lurking rather ominously. So you can imagine my delight when I saw this magnificent Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca) patrolling the grass area.

You can be forgiven for thinking the Egyptian Goose is an ornamental species introduced to this corner of South West London simply for the delight of the visitors. As per their name they originate from Egypt and north Africa and was brought to Europe in the 18th century to grace the estates of the wealthy. As with most ornamental species over the years some have escaped and become feral. Since then it has struggled to deal with the much colder UK winters with most of the population based around Norfolk and other parts of East Anglia. In recent years however it seems they have been able to cope better with the weather conditions to such an extent that it is being monitored for fear it will become a pest species with the amount of damage to can do to arable crops.
There's little more I can say about the Egyptian Goose's distinctive plumage than what you see. Markings do differ from bird to bird but the colourings do not differentiate between genders. The males are slightly bigger than the females but since this one was on its own I couldn't tell which one it was. Although it is called a goose and indeed looks like a goose it is in fact a combination of a goose, duck and swan. In behaviour it certainly does resemble a goose. On this occasion when the male mallard dared to leave the water the Egyptian Goose chased it off in a very aggressive manner complete with some nasty hissing.
After I had finished watching and photographing the Egyptian Goose I turned back round to see if I could get a better shot of Mrs Mallard. It seems though the thuggish behaviour of the Egyptian Goose scared her off so I will never fully work out the black and white mallard mystery. 


  1. I love finding out about different birds. I'm now going to be looking out for Egyptian goose to point out to my kids - but we'll make sure we don't get too close.

  2. The Egyptian Goose is a good looking bird. Just a shame they are so noisy. Great pictures.

  3. A lovely goose that I saw when i was inMalawi last year.

  4. Pretty series on the ducks. The Egyptian Goose is handsome. Great shots.

  5. we had Egyptian Geese in South Africa, we had a river at the bottom of the garden where they lived

  6. Fascinating bird! I learned a lot on this post and enjoyed the photos!

  7. Birds are such fascinating photography subjects. As for Egyptian Geese, I can't get enough of looking at them. I saw 2 again yesterday by the Thames and I couldn't resist attempting to photograph them. They are so beautiful, aren't they. I haven't quite seen their aggressive side yet :-) #AnimalTales

  8. There are other introduced birds that are now feral in the UK and in some cases do cause problems - the ring necked parakeet is one that springs to mind. I do hope they can keep the population of the Egyptian Goose under control as geese may look beautiful bit they can be so damaging to crops. (spot the farmer's daughter talking!)

    Did you ever find anything out about your off coloured duck?

    Many thanks for adding some more unusual birds to #Animaltales

    1. I think I meant to write odd, not off ... but actually it works just as well!


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