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A death at Landrick

We woke up early, to catch an the 7.07 train from Dunblane to King's Cross for niece Saskia's wedding in Dulwich. Thanks to the train's slightly flaky wi-fi I am able to blog the sensational reappearance of the otter at Landrick only hours after it happened. At 0545, Keir came upstairs, breathlessly announcing that the otter was back, and devouring something on the pond. We hadn't seen him for 9 days, so this was a welcome sighting - until we realised that what Keir thought was a large fish was actually the remains of our goose.

Jack had lived happily at Landrick since 1994, when we purchased her from Auchingarrich in the belief she was a gander. At the time we were seeking a breeding partner for our resident gander, who at the time we thought was a goose called Jean. She seemed lonely and the children were keen on goslings. The first time they mated, the gender double muddle became clear: in the words of daughter Helen (then 9 years old) "they're doing it upside down".

Sadly Jean (the gander) died the following year and we had lost faith in the supplier's ability to sex a gander reliably, so we didn't replace him. Year after year, Jack produced a dozen or more eggs, sat on them faithfully for weeks, fiercely defending her nest from anything that came close, and losing a great deal of body weight. Annually we used to break up her nest and dispose of the addled eggs, fearing she might die of starvation brought on by excessive and wholly misplaced maternal devotion.

The violent demise of the family's pet goose was both shocking and sad, though perhaps less painful than watching her declining or dementing or whatever happens to elderly geese. Welcome though the otter's visit had been, we had naively imagined it would feed on fish and frogs. Having such a fierce carnivore in the garden is slightly worrying. All ducks and ducklings have disappeared, and since we haven't seen any corpses we hope that means they've moved away, as opposed to been eaten.

Postscript: it was dark when we got back on Sunday, so my first job on Monday morning was to recover her corpse and give her a decent burial. I felt I had to photograph the corpse first, as so many people had been disbelieving about the otter's ability to kill an adult goose. Since all we saw was the otter feasting on dead goose in the middle of the pond, in theory it might not have been the actual predator. But otters allegedly don't eat carrion. It all seems far too great a coincidence.



This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 16, 2008 10:55 AM.

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