The goose is loose

Miss Nibbles makes herself welcome at Chester Front Harbour homes

Miss Nibbles the goose gets loose in Chester when wintertime hits, and due to the severity of recent storms she’s become a little closer with the residents of the Front Harbour.

The six-year-old goose is owned by Andrew Breen and Heather Kirby, who live in East Chester. Miss Nibbles flies to the village when their pond freezes over, and a bobcat predator begins to more closely monitor her movements, so she can continue enjoying water and security throughout the winter months.

Jim Barkhouse, who lives on the innermost section of the Chester Front Harbour, usually takes care of her along with a variety of other birds through this season.

“We didn’t know it was a tame duck. I thought it was a snow goose, so I posted it up on Facebook there, and we started feeding it along with the mallards and the black ducks. She would fit right in with them,” said Mr. Barkhouse of the time he first encountered the bird three years ago.

“She’s quite an attraction. I’ve seen people stop to take pictures and a few of them come over here or some of them feed her a little bit.” Mr. Barkhouse has even made postcards of Miss Nibbles for sale at the pharmacy.

When the harbour froze over this year, hospitality was extended further towards the open sea.

“She was walking down the street and then came in here,” said Elaine Tough, who lives on Water Street where she is one of the owners of the Rope Loft, along with her husband Derek Delamere. The two took care of the white-feathered bird with brilliant blue eyes for four weeks. “Everybody looks out for her in the village.”

One woman, Dolly Dimitroff, even bought her a pink baby bathtub, which Ms Tough says the goose would wade in three times a day.

“She’s demanding and entertaining, so you can tell by what cry, what little screech and what noise she makes she wants certain things,” said Ms Tough, who was happy to spoil the little goose with lettuce, her favourite treat. She also eats cracked corn, grain and oat feed, a more traditional diet for her breed.

During that time, she became docile, even allowing the owners of the restaurant to pet her.

“That was where it was getting a little bit, ‘Oh, maybe we shouldn’t be doing this,’ because she has to go back into the wild again. You don’t want to make her too comfortable, as she’ll forget her own natural instincts for survival.”

But Miss Nibbles seems able to drift between seeking top-notch service and swimming with the ducks with ease. After all, she wasn’t sleeping over. The goose would stay on their deck or seek shelter outside the building’s basement, where she could slide in and stay away from predators and ice in the night.

“It’s funny. On Saturday, she had this little antsy thing that she had to leave,” said Ms Tough. When the nor’easter came through, Miss Nibbles flew from their harbour, hiding out at the Chester Yacht Club instead.

“Now she’s acting like the other little ducks.”

Ms Tough and Mr. Barkhouse say she’s the mother hen of the group, taking care of the rest of the clan, squawking seagulls away because they take all of the timid ducklings food, leading the group and refusing to engage in play.

“It was very cute,” said Ms Tough. “She’s definitely entertained us for the winter that we’ve had for the past seven or eight weeks.”

As originally published in LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin

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