Saturday, July 18, 2009
Hanningfield Reservoir is a pleasant place to visit on a sunny day, at this time of the year the waters are full of ducks and other waterbirds, but the following photographs are the geese that lounge around in an enclosure and which you are allowed to feed.
Foolishly I wandered in with some bread in a bag, and was immediately leapt on by that white goose with the blue eyes down below, intimidation just about covers his behaviour but of course geese are famed for their aggressive stance and are good protectors of property.
Well he/she got his bread and I managed to distribute it in a fair manner to the others, not exactly elegant creatures geese as they waggle round but very colourful, and to see them in flight in that marvellous 'V' formation in the sky and to feel the heavy beat of their wings in your mind, it is well to remember that in the Celtic world they were probably associated with war, figuring alongside the gods Jupiter Taranis and Mars.
There is a marvellous goose image sitting atop the pre-roman sanctuary at Roquepertuse, with its head turned back, underneath is a frieze of horses heads, with skulls nestling in the niches of the wall round the sanctuary.
There is an Irish Celtic story about geese, or at least it probably refers to them. Geese have a tendency to flock together, land in a particular field and then eat the grass down to the roots, farmers in the Scottish Isles often complain about this. Well in this tale, the magical plain of Emain Macha is laid to waste by a flock of destructive birds. The king, Conchobar and his nobles set out to hunt the birds and the story goes that the magical creatures were chained together in groups of 20, making nine chains in all, "Lovely and choice was the bird flock and the accompanying bird song", as the hunt progresses the story turns, as any good story should, on the king's daughter Deitchine, when the god Lugh comes to the girl and the hero Cu Chulainn is fathered, the metamorphosis of three magical birds separating from the flock have been transposed into these three individuals and the magical conception story of Cu Chulainn is told.