Geese at Lismore Canal
Nuisance Plants on the River and a Dutch Nature Reserve...
The photo was taken this week at the Canal in Lismore which was built by the Dukes of Devonshire to enable them to trade in timber and coal and to bring in the Derbyshire Gritstone with which the Castle, the old railway station and some other buildings in the town are faced.
Himalayan Balsam, an escaped garden plant has established itself all along the freshwater sections of the Blackwater and tends to crowd out other plants. It has large pinky flowers which open in July. Some of these invasive species thrive here because nothing in this country eats them. This means that they can grow much more than they would in their home countries where a suite of insects, fungi etc will keep them in check. This also means that they contribute nothing to the food chain in the Irish habitats that they dominate.
Balsam has started to colonise the Lismore Canal in the last few years. When the present group of domestic geese was introduced, I had hoped that they would keep Balsam in check by eating shoots, leaves or seeds. But this seems not to have happened. My own little experiment involved putting leaves and seeds with some bread, but the geese were happy with the bread but actually spat out all the Balsam. Perhaps the new generation of geese pictured here will grow up to develop a taste for the weed and graze it down.
Elsewhere, geese, especially wild Greylag Geese do enhance biodiversity in habitats by their grazing. Anyone who goes to Amsterdam should visit the huge 6000 hectare Oostvaardersplassen (East ford place) Nature Reserve beside nearby Almere on the Flevoland Polder, east of the city. There you will see how wild geese along with gone-wild horses and cattle and Red Deer are keeping open patches in the reedbeds, woods and grassland and allowing a wide biodiversity to thrive.