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Incident on Leeds-Liverpool canal most likely due to birds trying to protect their young

A cyclist from Blackburn has spoken of his “traumatic experience” when he was attacked by geese as he rode to work along a canal towpath.

John Needham told the Lancashire Telegraph that the Canada geese flew at him while he was riding along the Leeds-Liverpool canal, with two of them pecking at him as he lay on the ground.

“I was on my mountain bike when one of the geese flew straight at me,” explained the 49-year-old.

“I managed to toss it to the side, then another two came at me and knocked me off my bike.

“The handlebar went right through my hip and that is when they pounced on me.

“They pecked at my finger, my elbow and my knees.

“My injuries are painful. My hip is sore. It is badly bruised and there is a big bump there.”

Mr Needham, who continued his journey to work but later headed to hospital where he was given antibiotics as well as a tetanus injection.

“It was quite a traumatic experience and I cannot believe how quickly it all happened,” he said.

“When I got the last one off me, it still tried to get back at me and I had to shove it off me.”

The cyclist says there were around 15 goslings that he thinks the adult geese may have been protecting, which Stephen Leigh, North West ecologist for the Canal & River Trust, told the newspaper was the most likely reason for the attack.

“This spring was a bit late and we have found that we have got a lot of goslings around when normally they would be a lot more developed by now," he said.

The Canal & River Trust's website has a section devoted to Cycling Hints & Tips; there's no mention of wildfowl there, but particularly at this time of year when geese, swans and other birds may be raising their young, it's a good idea to take extra care if you see them ahead of you.

In certain parts of the world, including Britain, geese are used as an alternative to guard dogs - both for their ability to make a great deal of noise when frightened or disturbed and because they can deliver a fearsome peck, as the unfortunate Mr Needham found out.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

26 comments

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ricolek [40 posts] 2 years ago
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 4

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crikey [1252 posts] 2 years ago
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Not exactly Jurassic Park is it?

I think John needs to BTFU...

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cbrndc [20 posts] 2 years ago
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He fell off of his bike and this is the best excuse he could think of to explain his injuries  4

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Ghedebrav [1100 posts] 2 years ago
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Seriously, the geese in Manchester are no joke. I don't even cycle along the canal after a couple of run-ins, they're properly vicious and don't muck about. There's no 'mock charge', they just hiss and fly right at you.

Weirdly they only really go for cyclists, pedestrians seem to be fine. I'm sure the last time one of them hissed 'road taxxxxxxx' at me...

Joking aside though, they can be very aggressive animals  13

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 2 years ago
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If you think Manchester's bad, stay away from Reading. I used to cycle along the Kennet and Avon towpath, and every bird larger than a duck seemed to fancy its chances.

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mybrainthinksim... [24 posts] 2 years ago
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flocking hell!

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monty dog [455 posts] 2 years ago
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I have to encounter nesting swans on my local towpath - I dismount and put the bike between me and their feathery friendliness when they start hissing and flapping...

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andyp [1444 posts] 2 years ago
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Ashton canal geese are seriously mental.

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road ronin [52 posts] 2 years ago
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these geese sound 'mad for it'  4

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VeloPeo [301 posts] 2 years ago
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Swans are worse.

Got stuck in a rush hour traffic jam on the Regents Canal Towpath in early summer when a mother swan protecting her young had got on the narrow bit under a bridge and wasn't letting anyone past. Took about 10 mins for her to give up  1

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joemmo [1164 posts] 2 years ago
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I've heard a swan can snap a carbon frame in two with just a flap of a wing. Something like that anyway.

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aslongasicycle [383 posts] 2 years ago
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CULL EVERYTHING WITH A MOUTH.

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zanf [811 posts] 2 years ago
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I ride along the Regents Canal & Grand Union Canal every day and can understand why these birds have attacked.

Lots of them have goslings and so will be very protective. I've often had them hiss at me as I've slowed down when passing them

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liamc [2 posts] 2 years ago
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Did you hear that goose tweeted about the incident afterwards?

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 2 years ago
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Sounds like a classic Rule #5 incident

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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Attacked by Goose?

That's a bit of a Maverick move...

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Leviathan [1885 posts] 2 years ago
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I always thought christmas dinner was too good to be just once a year.

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edf242 [39 posts] 2 years ago
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What can men do against such reckless hate?

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Carl [136 posts] 2 years ago
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Geese can bring down aircraft...don't mess with them, they are well hard, especially in Manchester, it seems!

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RichK [33 posts] 2 years ago
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Geese are a regular hazard in spring on the short stretch of canal I use to get to work. I was late for work one day due to waiting for geese to move... Just before hatching seems to be the worst time.

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notfastenough [3673 posts] 2 years ago
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farrell wrote:

Attacked by Goose?

That's a bit of a Maverick move...

Did it have a wingman?

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aslongasicycle [383 posts] 2 years ago
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His injuries are painful. He had antibiotics. Mr. Needham, you poor dear innocent man, all the readers of Road.cc I'm sure would join me in offering cuddles and a few tears.
Stay strong little soldier.

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Hamster [95 posts] 2 years ago
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The enraged speed bumps stay away now I run the dog to work off-road. Speak softly and carry a Dalmatian.

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racingcondor [161 posts] 2 years ago
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It's because he slowed down to have a look. They didn't like him having a gander...

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cidermart [488 posts] 2 years ago
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No doubt it was the 'Hello Kitty' tassels on the bar ends that upset the geese.  4

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Cauld Lubter [132 posts] 2 years ago
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Pity he wasn't carrying a pump-action.. err.. pump. Could have been roast goose for tea.