Pictured above are some of the geese that make up a gaggle in my home town of Sowerby Bridge. They nominally live on the River Ryburn, the smaller of Sowerby Bridge’s two rivers which joins the River Calder in the town. Usually they are found on the river outside the swimming pool, but occasionally they waddle a little further afield.
They never stray very far. I’ve never seen any of them fly – they will occasionally flap their wings but they don’t seem to be capable of using them. They just waddle or swim, and the furthest they get is a couple of streets away.
There are probably around 20 of them, and they tend to move together as one big gaggle. This helps when trying to cross the busy A58 road that runs through the town, which they often do, as this video shows. And frequently it’s at rush hour.
Their presence in the town is, unsurprisingly, controversial. Letters from concerned nearby residents have been sent to the local paper and local councillors. The local council have asked that the public do not feed them, and a sign stating this has appeared at one of their regular haunts. However it’s fair to say this sign is regularly ignored as I’ve often seen people throwing bread into the river for them.
I have to admit I’m mostly on the side of the geese (even if their honking occasionally wakes me up on weekend mornings). Whilst they can be a bit threatening to small children and have a habit of defecating a lot, I don’t think there are many humane ways of getting rid of them. And I think they add character to the town, especially in the spring when the newborn goslings hatch. There’s even a Facebook fan page with over 800 ‘likes’. They’ve been here longer than anyone can remember, and I don’t think the town would be the same without them.