A schoolboy has found a new playmate to keep him company during the lockdown – after rescuing a lost baby GOSLING from the side of the road.
Rex Stilwell, 12, rescued the abandoned greylag goose from hungry buzzards three weeks ago – and the pair have become inseparable ever since.
Rex has named the bird Winston, and has become like a surrogate ‘mother’ to the gosling, which has imprinted on him and follows him everywhere.
Every day Rex feeds Winston, plays with him, bathes him, and keeps a daily log of the bird’s weight.
And Winston even sits in on Rex’s virtual school lessons – curled up on Rex’s lap as the student, of Beeston Hall School near Cromer, Norfolk, listens to his teachers through the iPad.
Rex’s mum, Emma Stilwell, from Fakenham, Norfolk, said the family is “smitten” with their newest arrival.
She said: “They have such an amazing bond, it’s a very sweet relationship.
“Winston goes mad when he sees Rex – you can hear him pattering around after Rex all over the house. Rex is loving it.
“It’s perfect timing, really, with the lockdown. It’s a really nice thing to come out of this horrible time.
“It’s been an amazing experience – it’s priceless, really.”
Mum-of-two Emma, 51, a holiday property manager, was the first one to spot Winston running around near the family’s home on April 21, as she was driving to the shops.
She said: “It was serendipity, really – I just happened to spot him down a road that I wasn’t even driving on.
“I had been meaning to go to the shops for hours, and was running really late, so I couldn’t stop.
“Instead I called Rex and told him to get on his bike and see if he could find the gosling.
“I thought that would be enough time for the mother goose to find it, if she was nearby.
“But when Rex got there 20 minutes later, the gosling was still on its own – and there was a buzzard overhead that we think definitely would have swooped down on it.”
Emma predicted that, on the day they found Winston, he was only a couple of days old at most.
And she added that her son is “bird-obsessed”, saying: “He wanted a hawk, originally. At the start of the lockdown he kept asking me if he could get a hawk.
“He went online to see if he could find any for sale, but they were all up in Scotland, so obviously we couldn’t go and get them.
“But now, having looked after Rex, he says he prefers having a gosling anyway.”
She added: “Winston is very lucky to have him.”
Emma says that Rex’s 14-year-old sister, Greta, is “not as animal crazy” – but also enjoys playing in the garden with Winston, to give Rex a break occassionally.
The family are planning to try and give Winston a natural life, and “let nature take its course” when he gets a bit older.
Emma said: “We’re not sure what he’s going to want to do, really.
“At the moment, he still very much thinks that our house is his home, and he sleeps indoors.
“But they’re flock animals – and sometimes they can fly off or go and find a mate.
“We don’t know if he’s going to decide that he prefers to stay here and watch cartoons on the sofa. We just want to make sure the whole thing is very organic.”
In the meantime, Emma says that Rex has spent all of his savings on a “goose house” for the garden – just in case Winston decides he wants to fly off, but come back to visit.