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Cyclist injured in towpath goose attack

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.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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26 comments

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Daclu Trelub | 178 posts | 10 years ago
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Pity he wasn't carrying a pump-action.. err.. pump. Could have been roast goose for tea.

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cidermart | 582 posts | 10 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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racingcondor | 244 posts | 10 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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Hamster | 135 posts | 10 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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aslongasicycle | 384 posts | 10 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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RichK | 50 posts | 10 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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Carl | 141 posts | 10 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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edf242 | 39 posts | 10 years ago
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What can men do against such reckless hate?

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Leviathan | 3028 posts | 10 years ago
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I always thought christmas dinner was too good to be just once a year.

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farrell | 1942 posts | 10 years ago
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Attacked by Goose?

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

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notfastenough replied to farrell | 3727 posts | 10 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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mad_scot_rider | 591 posts | 10 years ago
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Sounds like a classic Rule #5 incident

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liamc | 2 posts | 10 years ago
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Did you hear that goose tweeted about the incident afterwards?

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zanf | 1036 posts | 10 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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aslongasicycle | 384 posts | 10 years ago
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CULL EVERYTHING WITH A MOUTH.

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joemmo | 1163 posts | 10 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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VeloPeo | 352 posts | 10 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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road ronin | 52 posts | 10 years ago
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these geese sound 'mad for it'  4

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andyp | 1607 posts | 10 years ago
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Ashton canal geese are seriously mental.

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monty dog | 463 posts | 10 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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mybrainthinksim... | 24 posts | 10 years ago
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flocking hell!

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The Rumpo Kid | 581 posts | 10 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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Ghedebrav | 1097 posts | 10 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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cbrndc | 181 posts | 10 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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crikey | 1238 posts | 10 years ago
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Not exactly Jurassic Park is it?

I think John needs to BTFU...

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ricolek | 40 posts | 10 years ago
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