The gander who likes a dander

One man and his......Gander. Moneymore man Tommy McWilliams accompanied by his Duck as he strolls around the village.mm13-131ar.

One man and his......Gander. Moneymore man Tommy McWilliams accompanied by his Duck as he strolls around the village.mm13-131ar.

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A GOOSE named Bertie has become a local celebrity in Moneymore and has been “snapped more times than a supermodel”, according to his owner.

Tommy McWilliams, 73, owns the goose and goes on regular walks around the village with Bertie loyally following him. He got the goose from his brother-in-law Robert who had a small holding but had been losing birds to fox attacks. So Tommy took Bertie when he was two years old in 2000 and gave him a new home, first at the council pond and then at his home in Rockview Park.

“He has a pen in the back yard with baths,” he said. “I take him for walks three or four times a day, down the town first thing in the morning. I don’t take him to the pond that often because he would be in no hurry out of it! There’s only one other goose I’ve heard of that is walked like him, but he’s walked on a lead.”

“He’s very intelligent and knows everything I say to him. I talk and he answers back. He rattles the back door when he is looking for attention, and if I don’t go to the door he goes to the window and looks up at me through the kitchen window. He’s a smart cookie.”

Tommy has been called Dr Doolittle because of his affinity with birds, but the only other pet he has had was a racing pigeon named Sebastian who he fed when the pigeon landed nearby in exhaustion. “He used to sit on the guttering and coo at me, so I named him after Sebastian Coe,” he laughed.

But it’s Bertie that has made him infamous in the village and further afield.

“There’s hardly a car that goes by without taking a photograph when he’s on his walks. People come and ask for a photograph at the house, including one time a woman visiting from Bangkok asked if she could take a video.”

The goose is now 14 years old and is very happy with his human companion in Moneymore but likes the company of other birds too.

“I used to joke to him that there were nice girls coming from Canada to see him at the gate and then he never seemed to leave the gate. I always reckoned he was waiting for them!”