New Families In Chiswick House Gardens

And some 'fowl' play as male swan attacks goslings


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Regular visitors to Chiswick House over the last weeks have become amateur ornithologists by taking a keen interest in the breeding habits of swans, geese and ducks on the lake.

Recent activity includes the unusual situation of a male Canada goose fostering five ducklings after the mother duck died. And in another unusual development, the cold weather snap which led to the deaths of some goslings ended with the staff taking the remaining goslings to be ' fostered' by a local family until they were stronger.

Chiswick House lake and its little island is home to a number of species of wildfowl who breed annually.

Photo by Stella Ellis

The last few weeks have seen a number of ducklings hatch, and over the last weekend four cygnets and a number of goslings made their appearance. Male swans are known to display aggressive behaviour in order to protect their families, and on Monday morning one local dog-walker observed the male clearly agitated by the presence of a family of newly born goslings, and started attacking the goslings and chasing the goose and drake from bank to bank.

The Head Gardener of Chiswick House and Gardens, Peter Oates told that there had been a lot of wildlife activity in May. He said it was difficult to give precise numbers as the birds move around but they estimate they have: 20 Ducklings, five of which have unusually been fostered by a male Canada goose when the ducklings mother died; 40 Coots; 11 Canada goslings ; 5 cygnets.

"We are expecting a second round of Egyptian geese goslings at any time. At present they are roosting approximately 50ft up a Chestnut tree", he said.

"In the case of the three goslings that were attacked and killed by the swan, this is unfortunately quite normal and nature taking its course. Swans are very territorial and the goslings had only recently hatched. Now the goslings are stronger they will hopefully be able to escape if pursued again.

"We only intervene if any of the wildlife is in distress or injured, for example about a month ago the Egyptian geese had goslings that were in distress due to our very late spring. Two goslings were lost due to the cold weather and the decision was made to rescue the goslings. This is not a decision that was taken lightly as removing young from any animal or bird is both distressing to the young and the parents.

"Some local residents Janis and her children Isabel, Daisy and Molly kindly fostered the goslings until they were strong enough to be taken to our local sanctuary where they could be looked after by qualified individuals.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Richard Sails and the local residents who keep a sharp vigil on our wildlife, reporting injured birds, and in particular Richard who tends to the birds as if they were his own.

"The Trust would also like to thank The Swan Sanctuary at Shepperton for their help and support," he said.

If you have any more pictures to send in of the exciting events in Chiswick House Gardens please email them




A visit to Chiswick House to see the wild fowl and their young is a must for this weekend! "We are fortunate to have our own mini wetland centre in the heart of Chiswick" commented one local resident.






May 25, 2013

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