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Ducks, Geese and Zoe

Last spring and summer, Liz took Zoe to see the ducks and geese on the Reading University lakes almost every day after school.  Zoe came to recognise some individual birds and even gave names to the various Egyptian geese there.  Well, last Sunday afternoon, on two occasions I saw clear evidence that some of the birds, at least, also recognise Zoe. 

On the north side of the big lake we came across the muscovy duck.  It was looking rather subdued and was hiding under some overhanging branches.  Then it saw Zoe and determinedly waddled out from the water and onto the path where it persistently fussed around Zoe, going around and in between her legs, all the time looking up asking to be fed.  This bird must have been domesticated - it treated Zoe as it would have treated its owner who had come to feed it.  The duck was so absorbed in what it was doing that it even failed to notice two dogs that walked by (not on leads) only a few feet away.  Zoe eventually got out some bread and fed it but even then we had to lay a trail of bread back to the water in order to stop it from following us.

Later, on the other side of the lake near the island we stopped for a moment and Zoe got her plastic bag of bread to feed some mallards.  I noticed the two old Egyptian geese (the ones Zoe calls Rosie and Sam) over on the north side.  They were picking up food that someone was throwing down when, suddenly, they took to the air and flew together out over the lake. Egyptian geese in flight are fairly impressive with their white-barred wings flapping noisily, and everyone turned round and watched them as they did a full circuit of the lake and then came down to land on the grass - right next to Zoe!  They then hurried over to beg food off her.

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