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Foul play not suspected
Gary the greylag goose, known as a gentle and entertaining bird to many who frequented Quidi Vidi Lake, has died.
In an eulogy written on Facebook for the well-known local waterfowl, Shawn Fitzpatrick — an avid birdwatcher and passionate wildlife photographer — confirmed that Gary’s trademark honking would resound no more. Many people made use of the eulogy to share their experiences with the bird, or to simply express sadness at his loss.
Fitzpatrick, who can often be found around the lake, became aware of Gary about three years ago, he says.
Despite being a domestic bird, and therefore not of particular interest to wildlife enthusiasts and bird-watchers, his personality stood out to those that met him.
“Eventually, he drew everybody to him,” Fitzpatrick said.
“People come down with their kids, they like to feed the ducks down here, and Gary was always fairly polite for a goose, really. Geese can be a little bit aggressive.”
Fitzpatrick would often show up to the lake with food and noticed Gary had the polite habit of waiting his turn.
“The others would be eating and he would just saunter up, you know, like Gandhi leading the flock or something,” Fitzpatrick said. “He’d just gently eat out of your hand.”
His patience and gentleness with children, was surprising as well.
“He had a really friendly personality,” Fitzpatrick said.
Gary the goose from QV Lake...I loved taking video and pics of him. He wasn't a fan of the ducks or pigeons. He will be missed 💕Posted by Nadine LeGrow on Sunday, February 16, 2020
Video by Nadine LeGrow.
Precisely how and when his life ended is uncertain, though Fitzpatrick suspects it was sometime between February 12 and 13, as the 12 was the last time he saw Gary.
“He looked absolutely fine,” Fitzpatrick said. “He came up and he took some feed out of my hand and went on back in the water and had a drink and swam around like he always did, nothing untoward looking about him.”
Regardless, Gary is but food in the eye of the eagle or raven now, as his lifeless body sits at the edge of the ice near the end of Quidi Vidi Lake closest to Dominion — a mass of feathers not moving.
John Alexander, a member of the unofficial birder community in St. John’s, was down by the lake on Sunday afternoon, with binoculars around his neck and dressed for the hand numbing cold. He remembers Gary mostly for his personable demeanor.
“I was parked (and) Gary came over and stuck his head in the car,” he said, with Fitzpatrick in the background agreeing, saying “like he would, yeah.”
Alexander continued, laughing about Gary’s odd but humourous nature, “He was looking for lunch and I thought, yum, dinner.
“But no, he was always very lovely to see and entertaining.”
His gentle nature would sometimes be put aside, however, as an apparent fondness for order would sometimes manifest itself in his attitude toward the other birds, Fitzpatrick says.
“It’s hilarious in a way because he’d kind of police (the lake),” Fitzpatrick said. “The cormorants, they get a bad rap... Gary would go over and kind of stare them down.”
Nadine LeGrow, who frequently visits the area to feed the birds, said the first time she came in contact with Gary she was uncertain whether she should stay or run away, but gradually became comfortable with him.
“He walked right up to me with his head held high and honked,” LeGrow wrote in a private Facebook message. “He took the feed so gently from my hand… he will definitely be missed by a lot of people.”