Imagine my surprise one gloomy, wet, early Saturday morning last December, when I looked out of my kitchen window to see a beautiful white goose in my garden. I closed my eyes a few times and re-opened them again to make sure my imagination was not working overtime! But no, there it stood, some distance from the window, but clearly a white goose in all its glory.

At first, I wondered whether it was injured, or maybe resting from a long migratory flight. Was it a snow goose? I decided to contact a near neighbour, Angela Wilkes, the chairman of the Society's wildlife committee. She soon came round, armed with food for the goose. We spent some time just watching its movements and enjoying the magical spectacle. The goose was certainly uninjured, fit and well - but what to do?

How and why it actually landed in the garden remains a mystery, but it would clearly not be able to take off again. Although the garden is a reasonable size, numerous shrubs and trees and the central arch would certainly jeopardise any attempt at flight.

A series of telephone calls ensued, including the Wetlands Centre at Barnes and Slimbridge, and from my description they were able to identify the goose as probably 'domestic'. Contact was also made with the Council, Dulwich Park Rangers and even the Police, to ask if anyone had reported a missing goose (probably not such a good idea on reflection bearing in mind the approach of Christmas!). In fact the latter enquiry was not met with laughter and derision, but quite touching concern.

The remaining line of contact - the RSPCA - did bear fruit. Numerous calls resulted in a lady RSPCA volunteer ringing me from her mobile unit. Obviously realising our close proximity to Dulwich Park she suggested I catch the goose myself. "Quite simple", she stated, "and once a blanket has been thrown over it, you can easily transfer it to your park". I fully understood her problem in that her function was to rescue injured animals not healthy ones, but I was also well aware of the difficulty I would encounter in attempting to capture a large strong goose!

Another matter for concern was that once darkness fell the goose would be at risk in our garden. A further call was made to the Park Rangers who did agree to accept the lone goose, once caught. After a little more time had elapsed, with delight and a large amount of relief, I was contacted again by the very nice RSPCA lady to say she was in my area and volunteered to catch the goose before going off duty for the day. She duly arrived before dark, just after the return of my husband Robert, and with his assistance the 'goose-chase' around the garden began. It was quite a scene and worthy of a 'Candid Camera' show! It ended with the goose cornered behind a bush, where it was caught 'bare-handed' and expertly by the lady volunteer, and no sign of a blanket!

I felt so relieved that it had not been my task. It was then popped into a large box and transported to its final destination - Dulwich Park - where it appeared quite at home swimming in the lake and bonding and grazing with all the other ducks and Canada Geese.

The white goose had remained in my garden for about six hours and I felt privileged to have had the opportunity to observe it roaming about and appearing at ease whilst investigating its surroundings. For me, a far more interesting Saturday had been spent at home than was originally planned - a crowded Christmas shopping exercise. I also felt extremely happy to have assisted in what may have been the Goose's bid for freedom from the Christmas Table !

Anne Laver

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