Cyclist injured in towpath goose attack

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

by Simon_MacMichael   June 5, 2013  

Canada geese

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.

26 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Big Grin

ricolek's picture

posted by ricolek [39 posts]
5th June 2013 - 18:23


Not exactly Jurassic Park is it?

I think John needs to BTFU...

posted by crikey [1154 posts]
5th June 2013 - 18:39


He fell off of his bike and this is the best excuse he could think of to explain his injuries Big Grin

posted by cbrndc [17 posts]
5th June 2013 - 18:47


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 Surprise

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [1133 posts]
5th June 2013 - 18:59


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.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
5th June 2013 - 19:09


flocking hell!

posted by mybrainthinksim... [24 posts]
5th June 2013 - 19:11


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...

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [432 posts]
5th June 2013 - 19:13


Ashton canal geese are seriously mental.

posted by andyp [1371 posts]
5th June 2013 - 20:33


these geese sound 'mad for it' Big Grin

Pain is weekness leaving the body

road ronin's picture

posted by road ronin [57 posts]
5th June 2013 - 20:51


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 Smile

posted by VeloPeo [270 posts]
5th June 2013 - 22:09


I've heard a swan can snap a carbon frame in two with just a flap of a wing. Something like that anyway.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [1112 posts]
6th June 2013 - 9:16



aslongasicycle's picture

posted by aslongasicycle [368 posts]
6th June 2013 - 10:34


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

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [722 posts]
6th June 2013 - 10:43


Did you hear that goose tweeted about the incident afterwards?

posted by liamc [2 posts]
6th June 2013 - 10:52


Sounds like a classic Rule #5 incident

Buddha said:

Believe nothing, No matter where you read it,
Or who has said it, Not even if I have said it,
Unless it agrees with your own reason
And your own common sense.

mad_scot_rider's picture

posted by mad_scot_rider [586 posts]
6th June 2013 - 10:57


Attacked by Goose?

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

posted by farrell [1941 posts]
6th June 2013 - 11:06


I always thought christmas dinner was too good to be just once a year.

I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer, I spat out Plath and Pinter.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1808 posts]
6th June 2013 - 11:57


What can men do against such reckless hate?

posted by edf242 [40 posts]
6th June 2013 - 12:33


Geese can bring down aircraft...don't mess with them, they are well hard, especially in Manchester, it seems!

I'm a human being, God damn it! My life has value. I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.

posted by Carl [136 posts]
6th June 2013 - 13:04


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.

posted by RichK [27 posts]
6th June 2013 - 13:37


farrell wrote:
Attacked by Goose?

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

Did it have a wingman?

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3721 posts]
6th June 2013 - 13:41


His injuries are painful. He had antibiotics. Mr. Needham, you poor dear innocent man, all the readers of I'm sure would join me in offering cuddles and a few tears.
Stay strong little soldier.

aslongasicycle's picture

posted by aslongasicycle [368 posts]
6th June 2013 - 13:42


The enraged speed bumps stay away now I run the dog to work off-road. Speak softly and carry a Dalmatian.

Hamster's picture

posted by Hamster [93 posts]
6th June 2013 - 13:54


It's because he slowed down to have a look. They didn't like him having a gander...

posted by racingcondor [150 posts]
6th June 2013 - 13:57


No doubt it was the 'Hello Kitty' tassels on the bar ends that upset the geese. Big Grin

cidermart's picture

posted by cidermart [493 posts]
6th June 2013 - 14:49


Pity he wasn't carrying a pump-action.. err.. pump. Could have been roast goose for tea.

posted by Cauld Lubter [131 posts]
7th June 2013 - 19:15