|I'm the proud Dad!|
In recent years our gang of seven was depleted with successive years of no kids; was our impressive looking billy not up to the job? Inevitably the older ones would die of old age including the top billy. Months after he disappeared we found his skull and horns sticking through the snow, thirteen growth rings made him a teenager.
It was not until I discovered this skull that I understood goat horns. I knew they kept on growing each year, as opposed to being shed like a deer, but I hadn’t realised that they were connected to the skull with such a long piece of bone. The horn itself is a sheath, made of the same stuff as our fingernails, that slots over the bone. For a goat to lose a horn, which I’ve seen after the autumn rutting, it must be a serious and painful business.
|Mum to four kids in thirteen months feeding at|
bottom of cliff
Thirteen months ago we were down to one elderly male and two middle aged females when out popped twin kids. We were delighted with the new arrivals and watched as they grew into sturdy youngsters. Curiously their colouring was more in keeping with the black and white ARGs than the mottled grey and white of our billy – had one of their billies crossed the line?
Over the last couple of months I have been watching the behaviour of our local gang and often found them taking afternoon siestas in the cosy bracken. Then one day I found just four of them, the billy, the twins and their auntie – where was mum? Sure enough a couple of weeks later, our good friend Sandra, a keen goat watcher who was looking after the place while we were away, saw the next generation, another pair of beautiful black and white twins.
|One of the new twins - they don't stay still|
long enough for a family pose.
So there we have it, the return of the magnificent seven – a lucky number and a modest one, which should not cause any conservation concern to the nature reserve. Back in the 1980s there were said to have been about sixty wild goats, that some were caught and transported to Scotland whilst others were shot. No need for drastic actions like that at the moment. Seven goats should be about right to keep down the ivy and brambles to make good space for the lichens and bryophytes.
|One of last year's twins aged about 13 months.|