Brent goose siamese twins are observed

Brent goose siamese twins flying in Sussex, with wings joined ''Photo by David Illman
Brent goose siamese twins flying in Sussex, with wings joined ''Photo by David Illman

ALL kinds of exciting things have happened recently down on salt flats of Pagham Harbour including this startling view of siamese Brent goose twins.

Trundling elegantly down to the coast in my old Alvis with its leather seats and sprung steering wheel to meet my friend the bird-watcher, I thought I would show him the attached picture and see whether he had noticed such an ungainly bird among the recently arrived geese.

The photo was taken by reader David Illman, who sent me a copy last winter to ask if I too had seen the twins as they flapped three-winged about the shore.

“So you got here in the old banger,” my friend greeted my arrival, a remark which I dismissed with: “Yes, and it got me down to Exmoor for the weekend and will take me gently into Norfolk next weekend so that I can see the pinkfoots in their tens of thousands on the sandflats of Well-next-the sea.”

It is the sort of riposte he understands. Well, with only an old Ford Mondeo at his disposal he knows his place.

Or should do. Also, I bet him there and then that he nad never seen siamese Brent goose twins.

He was not long with a reply. “It’ll be digital trickery. If they can fake the sinking of the Titanic, they can make pigs fly on the screen..” I showed him Mr Illman’s photo.

But scorn vanished and a happy grin spread under the grizzle-bear beard. We birders have to keep warm somehow, and I’ve never had bronchitis again since I grew mine.

“Oh, very nice, lucky shot. Bet he never saw it again. A real April Fool’s photo that.”

We agreed it could even be a goose and gander pair, both old birds as shown by their white collars which the young of the year do not acquire until next season.

As we talked, a score of Brents were also talking away to themselves down among the spartina grass clumps as they pulled sea lettuce and even pieces of bladder-wrack seaweed.

They had arrived in the first two weeks of October and had already made regimental forays in their jet black uniforms out on to the local grass and arable field for food. Lovely to have wild geese all the way from Russia within yards of you.

Why he had called me down to the sea again though, was to tell me about “Those holy hawks from off the cathedral spire in Chichester. They have been behaving like Chicago mobsters these past two months. Two of the youngsters escorted a curlew wing-to-wing until that unhappy bird dived head-first into the mud and escaped.

“Then one had a go at formation flying with a pair of spoonbills which escaped by nose-diving into some reeds.”

So we watched from the seawall the to-ings and fro-ings of this nether world that seems so peaceful and full of Peter Scott scenery where anything can happen to arouse our interest, even down to siamese geese.

“Wonderful man, Scott,” my friend observed. “He came here in the nineteen sixties to help set up the nature reserve. I have a picture of him walking round the shore here. Wonderful bloke.” “yes,” quoth I.

“I know the picture. He probably came in his Alvis, which he had from new. Douglas Bader had one as well.”

“Couple of greenshank over there,” was all my friend replied.