Buffy and Angel's gosling - so new to the world it was as yet unnamed - has disappeared.
Last night when I went down to shut the little family into their shed for the night I couldn't see the gosling, but assumed s/he was probably safely snuggled under Mama Buffy on the nest. Even so I had a mild twinge of unease, so to be certain, after shutting the shed I checked all round the goose run and in the pond. I found nothing out of the ordinary. I knew the devoted parents would never have left their offspring unattended anyway.
This morning when I opened the goose shed the bad news was confirmed. For the first time since she began incubating her eggs, Buffy came out of the shed as soon as I opened the door. Followed by Angel. But only the two of them. I checked inside the shed - perhaps the little mite had taken a chill in the cold, windy, wet weather. But no, no ailing gosling, no sad little corpse.
I can only assume that some predator - a buzzard, red kite, rat, weasel, stoat, mink or polecat? - must have snatched the gosling. Whatever it was must have been quick and sneaky to have outwitted Buffy and Angel, whose entire focus was their baby.
I know they are grieving, as they did last year when Snowy died. I just hope geese have short memories, and they are not left hurting for too long. At least they have each other, a rock solid partnership for comfort. Looking back over the posts I have written about them and the other animals here at Halfway Up A Hill it's clear to me how unique and individual a character each creature is, how rich and complex their relationships with each other. How anyone can deny that animals experience emotions as we do is beyond me.
Sadly that includes grief sometimes.