Kindergarten

Three greylags shepherd

Fluffy goslings stumbling moves

Away from stranger

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n.b. Counting goslings on the go is a tricky business. Like an enthusiastic child learning numbers, I see first nine, then seven, then eight during different attempts to quantify the bumbling brood.

The three adult geese work together to direct operations. One to each side of the chosen route, one bringing up the rear. The more lively, adventurous young lead the way, with occasional redirection from the geese on each side. Like good parents, the greylags seem easy enough with the path the youngsters take, unless judging a gentle intervention is necessary.

However, there is always one or another hand-size grey ball of fluff that is distracted by something to eat, or investigate, that gets behind the last, large waggling tail. On realising the group is becoming a little distant, the straggler accelerates, little beak leading the way, to rejoin the group, as if attached by invisible elastic that is recoiling after it has been pulled too taut.

The three adults waddle, or stand, with necks stretched tall so that they can scan for predators. The naïve young are free to nip and nibble at the shortest grass insatiably.

Three adults, possible nine goslings? The flock mentality right from the start, right there. The young in their kindergarten, the adults caring for all the young together regardless of from whose egg they sprung.

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Christopher Perry

21st April, 2020