Wild geese

10Jan11

Five hundred geese flew overhead, honking. It was an impressive sight. In fact there may have been a thousand, or four hundred. They were difficult to count, flying fast at high altitude. At an average weight of 2-3 kilos per goose, that made about a tonne or a tonne and half of gooseflesh, enough for several dinners.

In years gone by the sight of a large flock of geese heading south along the coast in mid-winter might have been taken as a sign that the weather was about to get worse. I took it as a sign that the birds had eaten all the sugar beet tops and were looking for more.

In the days when geese could forecast the weather, an observer would not have said that he heard them “honking”. Geese didn’t start to honk until about 1854. The expression was first used in North America, by Henry David Thoreau*. I don’t know what noise geese made before that.

Vehicles were not recorded as “honking” until 1895, also in America. Perhaps because people mistook them for geese.

[*Source: Chambers Dictionary of Etymology – I didn’t just know this]

 



4 Responses to “Wild geese”

  1. 1 Ann

    That’s evolution for you. Apparently horses and dogs used to canter with their front legs sticking out of the front and back legs sticking out of the back until the camera was invented and they realised how silly they looked.

  2. 3 Mike S

    Alex,
    From todays local papers:-
    http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/environment/picture_gallery_thousands_of_pink_footed_geese_fly_over_holkham_1_769648

    Also reminded me of the ‘Lessons From Geese’: here’s one of the ‘about 101,000’ results returned from Google:-

    http://www.agiftofinspiration.com.au/stories/inspirational/geese.shtml

    Mike S


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: