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although that should be sometimes in a west or south-west direction. They are very numerous on the extensive flat bogs and swamps of those counties. The most plentiful are the bean goose, called erroneously by the country people the barnacle goose. I have shot hundreds of them. The duck and teal were so plentiful there that the gentry never made use of other waterfowl, so geese, wigeon, &c., used to fall to my own share, and no inconsiderable quantity of them.”
I have seen various specimens of the bean goose which had been purchased in the market of Dublin, where neither it nor any species of wild goose is in esteem for the table. At Waterford it has been obtained ; * about Youghal was considered rare, but is noted in the Fauna of Cork'as occasionally plentiful in some parts of that county. It visits the bogs in the northern parts of Kerry every winter in large numbers.† Many persons, who have attended to native birds in Ireland, know little more of wild geese than by seeing them pass on wing; and consequently are ignorant of the species;—this applies, among other places, to Roundstone, on the coast of Connemara, which is named on account of its western position. † They are met with in great numbers on the Bog of Allen during the winter months, and small flocks are very often seen flying over the town of Clonmel, on the mountains near to which they are met with occasionally, but, being extremely wary, are seldom shot.
The Rev. G. M. Black remarks :—“Although wild geese appear to be slow on the wing, they can, when pressed, make good way. I saw a large flock pursued by an adult sea-eagle, A. albicilla (the white tail being distinctly visible), near Clough, county of Antrim, in the winter of 1832, but this bird did not, within my sight, overtake or appear to gain much on them. They were heading towards a lough at a short distance.”
Mr. Yarrell, after mentioning that a gander of the grey lag at the Zoological Gardens, London, would not associate with a bean or a white-fronted goose, but did so immediately with a tame goose placed there, considers this an indication of the pair both belonging to the same original stock. Although disposed to believe that our domestic goose is descended from the grey lag, I do not attach much weight to the circumstance alluded to by Mr. Yarrell, as geese of different species kept on ponds will often pair together. At Springmount, near Clough, a male bean goose, slightly wounded in the wing, was placed with a flock of common geese, from among whom he at once selected a partner, and thenceforth paid no attention to any others of her sex. He was evidently most unhappy when separated from her, even in winter, and on one occasion was the means of saving her life. The cook, being ordered to kill one of the geese, laid hold of the first that came to hand, which happened to be the wild gander's partner, when so remarkably vehement were his cries, that even the uplifted hand of the murderess was stayed, and some members of the family, with others of the household, hurrying to the scene of uproar, the cause of the bird's anxiety was discovered, and the intended victim set at liberty. This was told to me in January 1838, and no further attempts have since been made on the fair one's life. In November 1848, they were removed to a new residence, where they continue apparently as happy as geese can be. For several successive years after this pair became associated, the goose laid a full complement of eggs, and sat on them even beyond the usual time, the gander keeping company at her side during the interesting period, but, unfortunately, no issue appeared. On a subsequent year, the goose sat closely on an empty nest in the bog, her partner never leaving the immediate vicinity and guarding her most courageously. To test his courage, a person once lifted the goose off the nest, and threw her into the water, when her brave and faithful partner instantly advanced, making a loud hissing noise, and, flying at the offender, struck him with his feet and wings with all his might. During the last sunmer (1849) the goose laid a few eggs, but was too much disturbed by dogs to incubate them long. To the calls of his wild brethren passing over head
* Dr. R. J. Burkitt.
† Mr. R. Chute. The grey lag and bean geese are not found in North America, but the whitefronted goose is.
f Mr. R. Davis, jun.
the gander habitually replied, and, in one instance, it was feared he had bade adieu to the place, as he took wing and joined a flock high in the air ; but, after holding a little converse with them, he returned like a true lover to his mate. This gander, perhaps in right of a higher descent than his associates who merely “walk the earth,” at once, when put with the common geese, took the lead of the herd, sometimes numbering fifty or more, always heading them and keeping about two yards in advance. None of the tame ganders had ever the bad taste to dispute the chieftainship with him, and he proved a trustworthy guardian, as when his associates made an occasional sally into a corn-field he took his station on the fence, and sounded an alarm when the enemy was seen approaching.
At Springmount, in fine open weather, a wild bean goose aliglıted beside a flock of tame geese, so close to the dwellinghouse that it was shot from the back-door. A bird of this species wounded there soon recovered the use of its wings, and would fly away and remain absent for a few days, but always returned, until eventually killed on one of these experimental trips. It was there for part of a season with the hero of the preceding narrative. “In the spring of 1838 a wild goose, which had evidently been wounded, remained after the others had departed, and was seen feeding on the marshy lands of Bella, the residence of the late Edward French, Esq., near French park, and frequently joining company with some tame geese belonging to a tenant of that gentleman. After some time it walked into the farm-yard with its newly-formed acquaintance, and became quite domesticated." * A wild goose caught during a heavy fall of snow at Mourne (Down), in the winter of 1845, associated freely with a farmer's geese during the following spring and summer. In the succeeding spring, however, its wing, which had been clipped, recovered from the mutilation, and the bird, taking to flight, was heard of no more until the following autumn, when it (or a goose believed to be the same) paid a passing visit to its former associates by
alighting for a few minutes among them, after which it flew onward and was seen no more.* .
I have known a wounded bean goose eat bread, potatoes, and oatmeal dough from the hand, the second day after capture. Although partaking of boiled potatoes, it much preferred them uncooked.
A sporting friend, residing in the south of Ayrshire, has occasionally met with bean geese in the bogs there, and sprung them from among beds of wild roses, on the fruit of which (“a small mountain species,”') they inust have been busied feeding, as proved on dissection of those killed. In Ireland, also, he once remarked the gizzard of this goose to be filled with the fruit of the rose.t I have found roots of plants in one. Water-cresses are said to be much eaten by this bird at Dromedaragh. The bean goose was the only one known to the gamekeeper at Ardimersy, Islay, in January 1819, as frequenting that island, which it does regularly in winter. It does not breed there.
A very interesting account of this species and of the white-fronted goose will be found in St. John's 'Wild Sports, &c., of the Highlands, chap. xix. p. 151–158.
THE SHORT-BILLED OR PINK-FOOTED GOOSE—(Anser brachyrhynchus, Baillon, Anser phænicopus, Bartlett) though not uncommon in England or Scotland, cannot yet be announced as obtained in Ireland, though particularly looked for of late years. This is very singular, and more especially if there be no error in the statement that the bird breeds in numbers in some of the small islands of the Hebrides. I If it do so, we should expect flocks at least to pass over, and occasionally alight on Irish ground when migrating to or from those haunts. All the wild geese which I have seen in a fresh state in Belfast were either A. segetum or A. albifrons ; and in Dublin, those species, with the addition of A. ferus.
* Rev. G. M. Black.
+ Dr. Richardson, in the ' Fauna Boreali-Americana,' remarks that the “ Anser albifrons and A. hyperboreus feed chiefly on berries” (p. 439).
Mr. John Macgillivray.
The geographical distribution of this bird has yet to be ascertained. It was first described in 1833 from a specimen procured in the north of France, and has since been noticed in Holland and Belgium.*
THE WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE.
» erythropus, Linn. Is a regular winter visitant to Ireland; Where, as in Great Britain, it is, next to the bean goose, the species most frequently met with. About Belfast this bird is little known; occasionally-not so often as every winter-one or two are brought on sale to the town. One was noted, on account of the rarity of its appearance under such circumstances, as killed on the 26th October, 1822, by a wigeon-shooter from his barrel, near Conswater, Belfast Bay, as he was awaiting the flying of these birds: it was accompanied by two others; its weight was five pounds, the irides of a hazel-colour. A young bird of the year, killed at Strangford Lough on the 19th December, 1834, came under my inspection, as did two others obtained there on the 12th, and a third on the 30th of January, 1836. About the 1st of December, 1844, two of these birds, of which the black-barred bellies, marking the species, were distinctly seen by my ornithological informant, flew low over the shore of Belfast Bay, proceeding in a southerly direction.
Like all the geese, this species soon becomes familiar, and sometimes even bold. An immature one, brought from North America and sent to the Belfast Botanic Garden, was particularly fond of human society, probably from the kindness it had experienced on shipboard, and would at all times leave its pond to join men at work in the vicinity. But its gala day was when a military
* De Selys, Faune Belge,' p. 138.