Cape Barren Geese pair

As lock-down continues, and cases from the Delta strain continue to increase in Sydney, my wife and are now in quarantine isolation due a possible contact, and are not permitted to leave our home for two weeks. This means I had to be creative with this post and chose to feature our two unique Australian geese, which I have named the goose from the north and the goose from the south.

The Cape Barren Goose is only found mainly on the fields and shores of South Australia, Victoria and the islands surrounding and including Tasmania, making it my southern goose. This large goose is endemic to Australia and is found in large flocks, grazing on grassy paddocks and on the shores of lakes, swamps, rivers and coastline. Male and female look alike and have a unique yellow cere across their black bill. Below one is grazing on Maria Island NP in Tasmania.

The footage below was taken on the mudflats at the mouth of the Murray River in South Australia. These birds are quite shy of humans and may take to water if approached.

These geese are herbivorous, feeding on common island tussock grass and spear grass as well as other herbs and agriculture from farmed crops, such as barley, clover and legumes.

The Magpie Goose (previously known as the Pied Goose, hence its current name) is found in large flocks mainly in wetlands, swamps rivers and lakes of coastal Queensland and Northern Territory, with small settlements in northern NSW and the Hunter Wetlands Centre in Newcastle, thus it is my northern goose. This unique Aussie goose has features unlike others, having strongly clawed toes that are webbed only on their basal halves (i.e. only partly webbed).

Magpie Goose partly webbed feet with clawed toes.

These birds breed in large number during the northern wet season, building their nests on the reeds in the middle of swamps and rivers.

Magpie goose female nesting.

They are also herbivorous but in addition feed on roots from reeds and aquatic plants. They are known for their classic honking sound, which you will hear in the following video compilation.

This footage is from the Townsville wetlands in Far North Queensland during winter. Here waterbirds gather as the lakes and swamps dry up before the next summer wet season, when they will replenish.

Here are some photos mainly from the Hunter Wetlands replenishment experiment, where they trying to resettle these birds in NSW where they were depleted being hunted and shot for food during early settlement. Our First Australians fed on these birds as part of their staple diet, and possibly continue to do so in our indigenous Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.

There are two other species which are named Pygmy-Goose, being small and duck sized yet having the beak of a goose. which are not as common and found in the tropics of Far North and Northern Queensland. The Cotton Pygmy-Goose male and female are extremely shy and are usually in the middle of swamps and lakes, making them difficult to photograph. Below a female (left) and male (right)

The Green Pygmy-Goose is also found in the Northern Territory and features a beautiful iridescent back plumage. The male has a green neck and the female a white.


I do hope everyone is safe and warm and keeping well during this most unusual season of history. 

I always love exploring the origin of words, names and phrases (etymology) having studied some Greek and from my previous medical background, so I investigated the origin of the slang expression you silly goose !‘ and as usual found several very different suggestions, so I listened in on the geese to see if I could get a clue.


We are proud for Ash Barty winning Wimbledon on Sunday, and how she has become a great role model for our young women. Australia has  turned out some greats over the years. One of the great legacies we can leave our family, friends and extended family (including our local community) is the role model we display in the way we live and love. I will share some of the last few paragraphs of my book “Flight of a Fledgling” from ‘Leave a legacy of love – the importance of Hope.’

Anxiety, and fear of the future, as well as unresolved guilt, anger and resentment from the past, rob us of joy in life. The birds live an uncomplicated life, by always mindfully living in the present. Like us, birds live in the hope of fulfilling their life purpose, to pair, mate, nest and raise their young.  Unrealistic hope leads to disappointment when expectations go unfulfilled. This is why we need to ground our hope in an obtainable objective belief that will produce positive observable results in our lives.

In conclusion, it is wise to prepare for the reality of  the future, when the time unavoidably comes to leave this earth. In order to experience peace and acceptance, in your passing, it is wise to prepare a Will  to ensure your family and loved ones are cared for, and that it is kept up to date.  It is also wise to simplify your life, by becoming less attached to material things and more focused on leaving a legacy  of loving relationships.

Click on the book page above to visit my /birdbook page and purchase this book, it will make a great gift for your teen and young adult, and may also encourage you.



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W. A. Hewson (Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy).

‘To introduce people to our unique Australian birds,

So we can learn from them how to live a healthy and happy life.’

NOTE: All photos, videos and music used on this website are photographed, composed, performed  by the site owner and remains his copyrighted property, unless otherwise stated. The use of any material that is not original material of the site owner is duly acknowledged as such. © W. A. Hewson 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021.

 

15 Comments »

  1. Hi Ashley, great photos and videos of the geese. I have recently seen a couple of magpie geese here in Tassie, hanging out with the ducks at lakes. Not sure if they are just stopping by for awhile or decided to call Tasmania home. 🙂 Sorry to hear that the covid situation has worsened up there. I hope you remain safe and well through these times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sue, yes the Magpie Geese were up and down the continent many years ago and do tend to come down south during winter returning to the north to breed in summer. However many are starting to breed further south in southern Que and mid to north NSW. The good thing about isolation is that you are kept away from those who ar spreading the virus around. Have a wonderful week and keep warm.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Deborah, yes they are very unique geese. Thanks also for your kind comment, we are so far doing well and glad in a way we are not out in the community as the virus is spreading like wild fire again. We are working from home and I am using the time to write my 3rd book. Enjoy your weekend my friend 🙂

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  2. I was pleased to see the Cape Barren Goose when we visited Australia two years ago – found a few pottering about when we went to experience the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island.

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    • Thanks Don, Glad you got to see them while you were here, they are often missed by visiting birders due to their southern habitats and quite unique. Thank for your comment, and enjoy your week.

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    • Thanks Sandra, yes these ones are quite unique in their own way. The Canada Goose is now spread to Europe and we are concerned they do not end up here in Australia, as they are aggressive and out breed other species. We are already concerned about the effect of the Mallards breeding here.

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  3. Hi Ashley, wondered how you were faring. Hard not to get swept up in the drama of the surrounds. Trust that you are able to turn your hand to things while in lockdown. i know in our 4 months i completely went through my photo database and it was slimmed down by nearly 65% Something I’d not have bothered to worry about normally. Surprising how much detritus i’d let build up over the years. I guess we take a photo of a bird. It is our best one. Then we have the chance for another. So much better, then we find an even better one. etc. But I never go back to remove the first ‘great’ ones.

    Cape Barrens are quite common in our area, they roost and nest in quite a number of spots. i’ve been put up by the male on a few occassions when he thinks i’m between him and his lady, or young.
    Another surprise I’ve found with them, is their head-nodding, and on occasions with small flocks i’ve been able to get some interaction with them by doing a little headbobbing and keeping my eyes diverted. Not sure if it was just luck or real connection.

    good luck over the next couple of weeks. we’ll look forward to seeing your posts and to hear of your release into a safer time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks David, thankfully writing my 3rd book has kept me busy and destroying heaps of old data discs, which will soon be obsolete, thankfully we have better ways of storage these days. The weather is cold and wet again so that also helps to stay inside. We have another week yet where we can not leave our home and my wife has to have another negative test. We hope to get our second jab soon. Yes you had a productive lock down. Interesting about the head nodding Cape Barrens. I looked it up and it can be a desire to mate indicator 🙂 or a perceived threat. Maybe like the Cockie combs raised, there are several reasons depending on accompanying behaviour. Geese are known for their aggressive side, and how many people prefer them to watch dogs. Online shopping has become the thing these weeks, which is something I never got into. Enjoy your week and stay warm and safe my friend 🙂

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