Gabriel’s Hounds can quickly spot a dash of yellow

When they were young, our children used to call our home Kerrygold House because it is painted a lovely buttery colour.  It still is and, although it cannot be seen from the road, it must be a real beacon from up in the sky.   We don’t have fields of rape around us so this yellow dot on the landscape really will stand out.

The house is midway between two large areas of water – the vast lake outside JCB’s World Headquarters at Rocester and the lovely Blithfield Reservoir near Abbots Bromley, both in Staffordshire.  These two water features are home to many species of duck, geese and swans, with the incredible Australian Black Swans on JCB’s water.

As the evenings began to draw in after the Summer Solstice my wife and I, both avid gardeners so usually outside, began to notice that at certain times towards dusk we could hear the calling of geese out on the breeze.  This lovely, haunting sound is often known in the country as the cry of Gabriel’s Hounds.  Well, to cut a long story short, they clearly use Kerrygold House (not its real name) as a flight path beacon on their journey from JCB to overnight at Blithfield, and again on their return journey in the morning.


You can virtually set your watch by them.  The only thing that seems to alter their time-keeping is if it’s an unusually cloudy or dark day, they are then five to ten minutes earlier than normal.  Jennifer, my wife, claims that I have very selective hearing – not true of course – but I can pick up even the faintest call of his hounds, particularly in the evening.   We usually have four separate fly-pasts over a ten to fifteen minute period and the largest number of geese – they are Canadas – I have counted 22 in a single skein.  It really is something we both look forward to.

We really must try to get out more!!

Happy Gardening – Graham


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