Sunday, January 25, 2015

Of geese and goslings

Last summer I enjoyed the company of geese. The Canada geese and, sometimes, Brent geese, would come to the lake and spend their days enjoying the peace on our science park.

One afternoon I decided to share my lunch with the Canada geese and the ducks. They enjoyed it with gusto, so I brought in proper bird food - seeds and grain - which they also partook of very happily.

The Canada geese had their youngsters with them, and I very quickly got to know one family rather well. 'Hissy Momma' was a very assertive goose who would let her goslings come and eat from my provisions, whilst hissing loudly at every other goose, duck or passer by who dared even suggest that they may interrupt her youngsters repast. She would race after other geese, chasing them into the water and snapping at their tails - every other goose on the lake was terrified of her. She was partnered by 'Pop' who, though as big as his wife (and I am assuming gender here, I must admit), would just stand guard and watch me and the kids, whilst Momma was chasing away all others.

I named a few of them - my favourite being the littlest, Ranzo. After him I liked Brutus - he was the boldest of the goslings. Brutus and Ranzo eventually let me stroke them - yes, wild geese! Hissy Momma of course announced her disaproval, but as long I was dishing out the grub (which she sometimes stopped hissing enough to eat herself), she would accept my presence. If I had offered even a hint of threat, I am sure I would have been in serious trouble with her!
Hissy Mommna

The others would take food from my hand, and I would always approach and talk to them so they got to know my voice. This probably had two outcomes - firstly potentially none whatsoever because who knows if geese would recognise my voice and secondly, my colleagues and other passers by probably thought I was nuts.

Either way, I felt privileged to have those geese as company - even if just for a season. Good luck this summer my friends, I am sure Ranzo and the gang will be bringing their own brood back to the lake again this year.

Hesitant Brent Goose

All photos my own copyright. No downloading or use without express permission.

Liked this? Try The best morning's birding, Ramsey Canyon

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Conspiracy theory

Sometimes the world conspires for you (that's a corrupted quote from Paul Coelho's 'The Alchemist'). Though I spent three and a half happy years at my last employer, the time had come to move on.

Getting close to nature
As you may know (if you know me or from my blog posts), I am a lover of the natural world. I spend a lot of my time out bird watching, walking in woods or even by the sea if I get a chance. I worked for a conservation organisation for a year (the wonderful Fauna & Flora International) and subscribe to the RSPB, Butterfly Conservation and my local Wildlife Trust.

When it comes to looking for fundraising jobs - the obvious place is London where many of the major (and minor) charities are based. The thought of a commute into town didn't really appeal, but I've done it before, and I'm not that bothered. But the cost! Oh my, that did make a difference to my job hunt.

Fate, luck, chance, good timing. Whatever you care to attribute the confluence of circumstances to, I found my 'perfect job':

Factor one - it was in conservation!
Factor two - it was local!
Factor three - it was a wider remit than my previous job and would make full use of my recently acquired Diploma in Fundraising.

However, I discovered that my friend had also applied. She had been my boss at Fauna & Flora International. She was well qualified, lived nearby, and was a great candidate.

Fate? Luck? Here we go again ... the world conspiring. My friend had her eyes on a different job, which she really wanted. Actually, she invented the job - the employer didn't know how much they needed her, but she persuaded them and they hired her. So she did not want to interview for the job we had both applied to. And in her 'I'm sorry I can't attend' email, she also kindly wrote me a nice reference.

The long and the short of it is that I now work for a most exciting and interesting conservation organisation who are unique in their field. I have a huge challenge ahead of me, but one I shall relish.

Watch this space. I shall have more stories to tell.

If you liked this blog post, try:

Big cats
A year in fundraising
Food security

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Looking back

On 3 January 1974 I went to see 'Mary Poppins' at the cinema with my friend Paul. I was 13. I can't remember if Paul and I went on our own, or if we went with Paul's dad, but the reason was to get me out of the house.

During the night, my father had died. Aged just 53. He'd had a massive heart attack. My brother spent the remainder of the night lying in front of my door, to make sure I didn't come out and get involved in whatever was going on. He must have been 17. My mother was just 41.

I understand why I was sent to the cinema - to get me 'out the way' - but I don't remember if I knew what exactly what was going on. I can't remember if I was told my father was dead, or ill, or that I just needed to go out. I think I was told that he had died, but it was a long time ago and my memory isn't clear.

I do remember the funeral, in Bath. My father was buried in a cemetery in Bathwick and afterwards we went to my aunt's flat in the city. I remember  great anger and frustration because everyone was having a party, and my dad was dead. I know that the vicar came in to see my to try and explain that we were celebrating his life, not his death, but I don't really think I understood at 13 (and I was a young 13).

I never knew my father as an old man. He never knew me as an adult. There's a lot of grieving I still haven't done, there's a lot of things I wish I knew, I wish he'd known, but things are as they are. Life for my mother was not easy, and I had to grow up very quickly.

My brother must have had a hard time too, but it wasn't something we ever really spoke about. I wonder what his memories of that day, those times, are?

I wish I could end this piece on some great understanding, some words of wisdom, but the truth is I'm just thinking, and sometimes just writing is enough.

I remember my dad, I loved my dad, and I miss my dad.