Viola Stirling’s Nature Diary: 20 Dec 1921

It’s December and Viola is writing about her sightings of flocks of geese from the train into Stirling. Her previous diary entry from a few days earlier was written from Gartinstarry, so she is presumably travelling on the Forth & Clyde Junction Railway into Stirling. This railway line ran between Stirling and Balloch, but ceased operating passenger services in 1934. Falling passenger numbers and competition from bus services contributed to the closure. Researchers interested in the creation of the railway in the 1850s and its impact can find out more in our Stirling of Gargunnock collection (PD100). The railway was constructed on land owned by Viola’s family, and our collection includes correspondence and plans.

Viola’s diary entry recounts two’good’ stories she has heard about geese. Although not compelling stories, Viola is likely trying to point out that geese are more intelligent than humans give them credit for. Efforts to scare away geese (e.g. scarecrows) are often quickly sussed out by the birds. Geese appear to be capable of learning by observation, which may be why in the stories they remain unbothered by the presence of familiar people but are wary of newcomers.


Dec 20th Train to Stirling 11.35 a.m.

Saw various large flocks of geese standing

in the fields. I hear that there have been a

great many of them in the carse this winter

Have heard two good stories about them.

  1. As two men were stalking a flock of geese two

children and a donkey came past. The geese

paid no attention to them. When the donkey

went back the men hid behind it. When they

were 120 yards away the sentinal gave the alarm

and the geese flew off.

  1. A man in China noticed that a flock of

geese that he was stalking paid no attention

to a Chinaman who was walking about in the

same field. He put on the man’s coat but

as soon as he entered the field the birds

flew away.