E.. is for England and Egyptian Geese

E… is for England and…for Egyptian Geese

I was born in England; my ancestry is a mixture of northern European, Jewish and some maternal DNA from India according to a research programme one of my second cousins took part in a while ago. I was brought up and educated here but always felt a little like an outsider. There are many people like me in the world whose parents and ancestors have moved country; some have moved to the other side of the globe.

Nothing special there, people are restless beings like the birds, always looking for somewhere to settle, a better place to raise a family and stay happy and healthy. The politics of immigration are complex and I am not trying to make a point particularly but I am grateful that this country allowed my ancestors to settle here when they needed somewhere to go.

Egyptian Goose, photo by Andreas Trepte

Credit : Andreas Trepte, www.photo-natur.de  (Creative Commons Licence)

Egyptian Geese, Little Egrets, Collared Doves are but some of the flying immigrants who like it here so much they set up home and breed.

I for one am pleased to see them doing so well, bringing life and light into the natural spaces of the environment.

I am a huge fan of waterbirds, maybe because they are easier to identify than little brown things flitting about in the treetops, or diving falcons, who are nearly always silhouetted against the sky or hurtling through a flock of pigeons.

We used to go out bird watching most weekends, but have put our birding habits on the back burner recently, apart from two very special visits to the Somerset Levels this year.

The Egyptian Goose looks like a bird with a bad hangover with its brown circled eyes, but they have excellent parenting skills and the ability to find seriously nice venues to raise a brood of goslings, favouring the grounds of stately homes, grand gardens with water features and London Parks.

Little Eget, By Ken Billington
Credit: By Ken Billington (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

The little Egret is a small white heron which was once a rare vagrant in this country. It is now frequently seen on the Somerset Levels and other wetlands. They breed happily on the marshy coastline in North Norfolk; another wonderful place to watch birds. We get Cattle Egrets too but they are rarer for the time being and only visit, unlike the litte Egret who has started breeding here.

Somewhere in a box on a shelf there are our photos of these birds, but it would take me all day to find them, so I have used photos from Wikipedia under the terms of their respective licences and credited them as asked.

Have you noticed new birds where you live? I would love to hear about them if you have.

19 thoughts on “E.. is for England and Egyptian Geese

  1. teawithhazel

    what a lovely post..the way you linked your ancestry to the birds was really touching..i don’t want to say anymore because my words can’t express the specialness of how it made me feel..:) jane

    1. Joanna Post author

      They arrived about three centuries ago being introduced as ‘ornamentals’ to various grand residences. They have since escaped and become ‘feral’ and have breeding populations in various places in the UK. Many in Norfolk, like Holkham Hall, but they are also to be found in London, Rose-ringed parrakeets are another bird that seem very exotic here but there are thousands of them now in the south-east. The egrets flew in by themselves over the Channel I believe. Another bird that was introduced and is now native, i.e. it breeds here is the LIttle Owl who was supposedly brought in to catch mice. New immigrants come in usually via the South and East Coasts from mainland Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Climate and habitat change being responsible to a large degree. Conversely it may soon become too warm for the cuckoo to breed here. If they arrive too late from Africa, the species they parasitise (not sure if that is a real word!) may have already raised their chicks for the year and the cuckoos will not be able to do what they usually do.

  2. bagnidilucca

    We only have bush turkeys near place – I did a post on them recently. They can be pests in gardens, but they do look funny strutting around the streets.They are not nearly as lovely as your birds.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I guess all birds can be pests in large numbers or where they are inconvenient. I am not very fond of the wood pigeons this summer who eat our vegetables and poo on the grass but they are birds and free to come and go as they please :)

  3. Jeannette

    Now that I have my computer back I am enjoying reading this series of alphabetical items! Particularly like today’s as I have an interest in birds too. My son is a member of Bath Nats, a bird watching group, have you ever come into contact with them on your bird-watching week-ends?

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hi Jeannette, I’ve missed you! Thank you for the lovely card and the icecube maker. That was so very kind of you, I want to make those interesting looking biscuits one of these days.

      If I was a better bird photographer I would love nothing more than to have a bird blog, but as you know you have to carry those great big lenses around and worrying about the photos makes the whole thing less enjoyable for me. I am going to have a dig around in our collection soon and see if I can find any presentable ones to share though. I don’t know Bath Nats, I used to subscribe to Bird Guides, which is a wonderful resource for all things birdy, and I visit some local patchers sites like Severnsidebirds from time to time too.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thanks so much Ruth – I have no plan, they are written late at night at the moment so are a bit rambly.

  4. heidi

    The Egyptian duck is quite attractive- I like his downplayed colors.
    Here we have mallard ducks with a beautiful green and brown coloring.
    And blue herons have taken to nesting in the trees next to the Cuyahoga River, not more than 7 miles from my home.
    This is a very interesting post, Joanna!
    I am very excited to come to your site, wondering how you will fill out the alphabet each day.

    1. Joanna Post author

      It’s a mixture of excitement tinged with dread for me I have to admit.. not supposed to say that. At about 5 in the evening, I think oh gosh, what am I going to write and so far something has popped up. Though last night I really wanted to go hunting for my bird photos and had to think again. I would have been lost in nostalgia otherwise.

      I love the way herons nest in trees too Heidi, they are such big, prehistoric looking birds!

  5. drfugawe

    You guys have entirely too many names for your country! Why can’t you just decide on one and leave it at that – this causes pain to we ‘foreigner’, who never know which of the names to use – is it England, Great Britain, The U.K., etc? We actually have only one name, The United States of America. Yeah, some would say we have two, America and The U.S., but of course they are both just abbreviations of the full name (aren’t we wonderful!).

    OK, our name is totally dumb! Since we share the North American continent with Canada and Mexico, among others, how presumptuous can a county be to ignore this fact when naming itself? I always favored, Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean, but this has never garnered many votes from others.

  6. Joanna Post author

    I’m assuming this is tongue in cheek? But in case you’re serious… the place I was born has a lot of history Doc. I’ve put a link to the explanation of the different names for you which makes as much sense as any. If you are Welsh or Scottish or from Northern Ireland you are not English, (you can call yourself British if you choose of course) I am English and that is how I choose to label myself if I have to fill out a form. It’s about politics, history and power. It is always thus with the naming of places. The fact is neither countries nor cities name themselves, it’s done by the people who are in charge. A person who lives in any of the countries contiguous to England would potentially be offended by being called English. Our countries, small as they are are not the same as the states that make up your nation. We have a different history.

    I couldn’t comment on the naming of the continent you live on. I thought it was named after someone called Amerigo?


      1. Joanna Post author

        I don’t mean to sound humourless, but I thought maybe you really had no idea about the different meanings of these admittedly confusing terms. Someone else asked me about it last year too, so I thought this was a good place to try and explain.

        Strange that your country (have looked it up now) has a name first seen on a German cartographer’s map in the 16th century. I like the expression ‘the New World’ for your side of the Atlantic myself :)

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