The Buckley Society Logo

Cob swan attacking Canada goose parents with goslings still in water"

Trap Pool, Middle Common, Buckley

May 2004

96.17 (with the account below) - 96.22 tell the story of the swans which arrived at the Trap Pool for the first time in over thirty years. See also 5.133, 101.1, 101.8, 101.9, 101.11, 101.12 and 101.13 for other images following the various species of bird as they attempted to rear young over summer 2004 on the Trap Pool.




As a schoolboy living in Park Road, the commons and pools of Buckley were year- long playgrounds for me and my pals. The Higher Common with its Mountain Pool and colliery spoil 'Bonc' was obviously closest and mostly used but we also ventured at all seasons of the year to the Middle Common with its Trap Pool as well as the Mount and Etna Pools. Most intriguing to us at Etna was one of the German prisoner of war working at Brookhill brickworks who dived in from a 30 ft cliff and swam with a strange overarm movement we later learned was the butterfly stroke..


There were frogs and sticklebacks to catch under the water at the Mountain Pool, on the surface some moorhens and a resident pair of swans and, in the sky, skylarks sadly now long gone. We seem to have had more frequent hard winters in the early 1940's than later in the century and the poor swans suffered badly in the snowy winter of 1940. After a count of heads and a cup of hot Horlicks, we were regularly sent home from school at mid morning to play for the day because of low attendance. We lads were always unfeelingly amused when we watched the swans trying to take off and land on the frozen pool and ending up without brakes crashing into the banks.


I also remember another frosty winter without much snow, 1943 I think, when we went to the Trap Pool which was frozen to a thickness of 12 inches and had such a smooth and glassy finish that it was very difficult for us to get back to the bank after sliding out to the middle. I don't however recall any swans at the Trap Pool and there was of course no Buckley Angling Club at that time.


When I acquired a Golden Retriever in 1995, I first took to taking him from my Mynydd Isa home to walk on the Higher Common. By then of course the Mountain Pool teemed with various wildfowl, with lots of Mallard ducks always scattered around the banks. Zak the pup wasn't as well trained then as he is now so I switched to the Middle Common for our walks. We always included a circuit of the Trap Pool so I soon became familiar with the attractive wild life that the pool encourages.


As well as plenty of Mallards, Coots and Black Headed Gulls, there were rarer visitors to see like a pair of Great Crested Grebe and an occasional Common Tern (Sea Swallow) which came in from the coast. But most notable was a pair of Canada geese which considered the pool their personal territory and reared a brood of goslings every year. Between 1996 and 2003 they successfully reared over forty youngsters without any serious problems but that all changed in 2004.


As early spring approached in 2004, a pair of swans suddenly appeared on the scene at The Trap. I asked various anglers when they had last seen swans there and found that some who had fished at The Trap for over thirty years had never seen a swan. The sitting period for a pen swan on her eggs is some fifty days compared with a Canada goose's thirty five days so it was the pen which took up her nest first on the large island connected to the bank by the Club's wooden bridge. The Canada goose waited a week or more before building her nest on one of the small middle islands.


While the females were sitting on their clutches of eggs, the two males roamed the pool. The swan cob became quite aggressive about his new territory and made life miserable for the poor Canada gander which was chased around the pool with little respite. In the middle of May, the Canada goose hatched seven goslings, the biggest brood in my time of observing the pool. The family took to the water but the cob, having nothing better to do while his mate was on the nest, started to chase the whole family around the pool.


Shortly after, I visited the Trap one afternoon with my wife and two grandchildren to show them the new arrivals. The children had some bread and soon attracted the Canada goose family to the bankside. The children were alarmed however when the cob came steaming up from the middle of the pool and started attacking the geese. The parents jumped on to the bank next to us but dad gander went back in, trying to fend off the cob which was pecking the little goslings still in the water.


After trying to drive off the cob without success, I stooped down and scooped the seven goslings out of the water with the goose immediately alongside me. Because I had previously had Zak with me, the parents had always been wary of our getting close but this time the goose appeared to realise I was helping her and made no objection to my touching them. She soon gathered her brood around her but meanwhile the cob was chasing the gander around the pool, flying low over the water.


Within the week, the pen came off her nest into the water with five cygnets in tow. This seemed to quieten the cob down for a time as he fussed around his family. However, goslings grow extremely quickly and, with the seven youngsters soon as big as chickens, in late July the cob again began to take exception to this bunch of nine trespassers on his pool. One day, our trip around the pool failed to discover the goose family and, on asking an angler, I was told they had had enough. The previous evening, led by mother goose and trailed by the gander, the seven goslings had made their way up a track from the pool across Liverpool Road and over to the Mountain Pool, a distance of several hundred yards. What a picture that would have been!


With the geese gone, the swans had the Trap to themselves but misfortune was to come their way. I had heard from anglers about foxes being seen around the pool especially late on summer evenings and had even had one cross my path in front of Zak and me near the back of Belmont Crescent one evening. Gradually the cygnets began to disappear until there was only one left, all apparently having fallen prey to the foxes. The last cygnet was a sickly one and I understand that it was taken away to a swan sanctuary and, for all I know, may have survived.


Later in the summer the whole Canada goose family, now in full plumage, came back for another try at The Trap but they were soon driven to make another trek across Liverpool Road by an angry cob and there they remain in the Mountain Pool. The pair of swans apparently intend to spend the winter on the Trap Pool which makes me wonder what will happen in 2005 - more battles?.


Author: Dunn, Neville


Year = 2004

Month = May

Landscape = Urban

Extra = Animals

Extra = 2000s

Copyright © 2015 The Buckley Society