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SA Partridge

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Killer birds from beyond the grave

I have a warning that goes out to anyone who has even vaguely toyed with the idea of feeding the ducks that inhabit the canal at Century City.

My advice is this. Don’t.

I walk past the little feathered darlings almost every day and marvel at how peaceful they look, sleeping on the grass, waddling around in their little groups, the tiny ducklings paddling around in single file after their mummy. It’s all very pastoral and very soothing, especially for someone who needs a break now and then from rowdy colleagues.

I usually throw some bread or biscuits from our balcony into the water which lures the white bath ducky variety out of hiding to nibble or morsel or two but I’ve always been in too much of a hurry to actually take the time to spend a few moments sitting on the grassy banks and marveling at these simple creatures whilst contemplating my place in the universe.

Today however, was different. It was the perfect Wintery morning. The sun had just risen and the trees and bushes surrounding the canal were still dripping with glistening dew. Armed with my Winter wellies and a crust of bread I set out towards the bank of grass where I knew the white bath duckies liked to hang out.

I didn’t find the white ducks but I did find a family of some rather friendly Egyptian geese who I’ve known since they were about teacup height. They didn’t mind my being there so I sat myself down quite happily and starting throwing bread around.

Of course, it didn’t turn out to be the wonderfully rustic experience I had envisioned. As soon as that bread hit the ground I was immediately assailed by a ravenous colony of seagulls and was forced to retreat. Then the geese cottoned on that the bread was meant for them and started squawking angrily at me. In the end I was left feeling rather like I had just had a lucky escape from an Alfred Hitchcock remake.

I think a pigeon gave me a funny look too but that could have just been my imagination.

 

Recent comments:

  • <a href="http://louisgreenberg.com" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    June 25th, 2008 @12:17 #
     
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    Ha! I sympathise. Anyone who has been mobbed - aged 4 - feeding the raspy, beaky geese at Zoo Lake will take care in future.

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  • <a href="http://www.moxyland.com" rel="nofollow">Lauren Beukes</a>
    Lauren Beukes
    June 25th, 2008 @12:50 #
     
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    Those web-footed Zoo Lake creatures were the terror of my toddlerhood (and many others besides)

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  • <a href="http://www.sapartridge.co.za" rel="nofollow">Sally</a>
    Sally
    June 25th, 2008 @12:59 #
     
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    I wasn't afraid of ducks until today. I think I may be traumatised.

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  • <a href="http://louisgreenberg.com" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    June 25th, 2008 @13:10 #
     
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    You shouldn't paint ducks and geese with the same brush. Ducks are the small, peaceful ones; geese are the larger terrifying ones who have eaten all of the ducks. People keep geese instead of pitbulls or rottweilers.

    I was going to suggest honey-glazed red wine goose fillets as a way to get over your trauma, but I shouldn't really.

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  • <a href="http://richarddenooy.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    June 25th, 2008 @13:17 #
     
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    One of our own geese, defending its goslings, once leapt up and attached itself to my crotch with its pecker (sorry, couldn't resist). I had to twist it's scrawny neck to disengage it. But it leapt right back at me. Paté for brains.

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  • Sven
    Sven
    June 25th, 2008 @13:19 #
     
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    Richard, novelist, satirist, goose-keeper?

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  • <a href="http://louisgreenberg.com" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    June 25th, 2008 @13:20 #
     
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    Ha ha ha!

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  • <a href="http://www.sapartridge.co.za" rel="nofollow">Sally</a>
    Sally
    June 25th, 2008 @13:25 #
     
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    I follow the school of thought that if it waddles and quacks, its a duck. Although, by your reasoning I can quite agree that ducks in general don't run after fully grown women with venom in their eyes.

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  • <a href="http://richarddenooy.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    June 25th, 2008 @13:37 #
     
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    I knew the quills would bring you out of hiding, Sven. I omitted the following essential information: smallholding, Bronkhorstfontein, early 80s, current crotch intact and gooseless.

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  • Sven
    Sven
    June 25th, 2008 @14:00 #
     
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    Richard, I am ashamed to admit that I have been working and not hiding. I have ditched my post in the foothills of the Bernaise Alps in favour of a spot overlooking Kalk Bay, and as a consequence will now be required to reach deadlines and do other horrific things that involve industry and effort.

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  • <a href="http://richarddenooy.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    June 25th, 2008 @14:28 #
     
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    Poor dear. And it's winter, too. Back for good?

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  • <a href="http://rustumkozain.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    June 25th, 2008 @14:42 #
     
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    Welcome then back Sven.

    I agree. Goose breast and roast potatoes. We had a goose, also, once, but it was no match for the killer chickens we had. We called them machine chickens, since they had, apparently, been hatched under electric light. They were completely mental, and would shriek through the air like white, angry ninjas, claws at the fore. They were eaten.

    The goose, well, it was feisty, but eventually was wounded by a dog. We ate the goose too. I can't remember the taste though.

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  • Sven
    Sven
    June 25th, 2008 @14:49 #
     
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    Richard, I seem to live my life perpetually between places, so that is an impossible question for me to answer, I like to roam and there's a Zen master in Korea I want to see about a banana.

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  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    June 25th, 2008 @20:36 #
     
  • <a href="http://richarddenooy.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    June 25th, 2008 @21:01 #
     
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    Sven - when you say "overlooking Kalk Bay", just how high up are you?

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  • Sven
    Sven
    June 26th, 2008 @00:19 #
     
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    Richard, 3 storeys above main road level.

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