Goose's romance with mallard duck
Published 16/04/2010 | 07:57
A rare inter-species love affair is blossoming at a bird sanctuary, after a male goose fell for a female duck.
Staff at Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, in Gloucestershire, are stunned by the bizarre courtship between the bar-headed goose and the dainty mallard duck.
With breeding season getting into full swing the couple are raising eyebrows on a lake right next to the visitors centre.
Wardens say the goose "is doing everything in his power to woo her" and is fiercely chasing off any geese or ducks who come within half a metre of his mate.
There is even an "extremely unlikely" chance the pair will produce hybrid offspring, the trust said.
Slimbridge Reserve warden, James Lees said: "I have certainly never seen anything like it in my time here. I'm not sure whether he thinks he is a mallard or whether he thinks she is a bar-headed goose, but I guess they do say love is blind.
"He seems to get most protective over her when he sees another goose come near her. She doesn't seem to mind him following her or else she would fly away from him so I think she must like him too.
"Geese generally like to stay on land so he is doing a lot more swimming than usual to make sure he is close to her."
He added: "It will be interesting now to see whether she has any offspring. Although there has been recorded on very rare occasions goose hybrids this is extremely unlikely and it is far more likely that she will have bred with a mallard at some point and have normal young.
"Then we will be interested to see if he turns from a jealous admirer to a protective foster dad."