Greylag Goose

The Greylag Goose is something of a success story. While other species' breeding pairs are declining, the Greylag has increased dramatically in Shetland, to the extent that it is now something of a pest. Hundreds can be observed in numerous fields waddling up and down, grazing. It is a wonder that roast goose has not become a more common dish on Shetlanders’ and Orkneymen’s tables. It was traditionally consumed at Michaelmas (the 29th September) in remembrance of Michael the archangel. The association of this bird with Michael struck me as odd, but when one considers its flying abilities, its impressive migration and its ability to fight and defend itself, it may not be so strange. Jude 9 describes Michael as disputing with the devil, and these geese are certainly not incapable of quarrelling and wrangling with anyone who dares cross them.

Geese, like angels, are best admired from afar, unless it happens to be on a dinner plate. Geese are now sometimes employed as security measures much as guard dogs once were; similarly, Daniel says in 12:1

And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people

One day we may well be surprised to learn that so mighty a one as Michael the archangel was used by God to defend and assist His children.

Top image by Freddy from Pixabay