Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Whatever happened to Lola?

Back on 27th April, I said that I wasn't hopeful for the clutch of eggs being sat on by one of our West of England geese, Lola.

At that stage she had been on the for 31 days. The normal incubation period for geese is 28 to 31 days, and there was no sign of anything happening, although it was difficult to be certain, as she was very defensive of her nest.

I left her on them for another 4 days, but when there was still no sign of any goslings, I armed myself with a dustbin lid, and removed the eggs from the nest. Although Lola was getting off the nest for short periods to eat and drink, I did not want her sitting indefinitely. Besides, assuming the eggs were infertile, they were likely to start going off!.

Meanwhile, I had taken the eggs laid by our other West of England, Amelia, and had six of them in our small incubator. Amelia continued to lay, and I put her later eggs into a nest I had made in their stall, in the hope that she might sit. No such luck. As soon as I had removed Lola's eggs, Lola moved herself onto this new nest, and sat there prepared to wait another 4 weeks. She really did want goslings!

We had timed the incubator for a hatch one week after our return from the Scilly Isles. Candling before we left had been inconclusive, but after our return it was clear that these eggs too were infertile. It would appear that Amos, our gander, was not performing, and the likelihood was that Lola's new clutch would also come to nothing.

So, yesterday I phoned around a few breeders and suppliers I know, and by good fortune found that one was at market, and was expected back at around 3 pm, probably with some goslings. We arrived there at 2 minutes past 3, just as he had unpacked a number of goslings and ducklings, including 6 day old goslings. We bought all 6, and rushed them home, where we put them in with the chicks that had hatched out over the weekend.

Then, once it had started to get dark, and the birds were settling down for night, we took the goslings up to the goose stall, and I gently placed them into Lola's nest. Mo & I watched anxiously, in case the geese attacked the youngsters as unwelcome intruders, but all 3 examined them with incredible gentleness.

I removed the eggs from the nest and put them in the incubator (I'll candle them this weekend), and left them to it.

And when I went out to check on the birds this afternoon, there was Lola, out behind her stall, carefully watching over her babies, and feeling very pleased with herself for at last managing to hatch them out! ( I don't think I'll tell her the truth, she probably wouldn't believe me).