Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Eight Released

After 2 months Trust care and attention, the brood of 8 were released this morning. 

This makes 51 ducklings to date released back to the river this season. The mother of this brood is nesting again, so I left them in the safest spot I could find this morning - directly under the dead crow hanging from a tree.

They should be capable of flight in a matter of days and have the safety of numbers around them. 
The Trust thanks Susan Hume for her time and use of her car to help with the release this morning.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Order Restored

After a pretty traumatic week for the Swans, calm and order returned once more to the riverside. 

The weather has also been kind for Nairn Games day. 

Penny is walking normally, and her hook episode seems over.

Friday, 19 August 2016

More Fishing Tackle Trauma !!

Unbelievably while doing my river round this morning I witnessed yet again one of the Cygnets getting tangled up in fishing line under the Merryton Bridge !!  The poor bird unwittingly got it's feet caught up in line which was attached to a half submerged willow branch in the water. In total panic it tried to escape from the hidden line and in doing so set off a chain of panic among the rest of the family, especially Popeye and Penny, who were trying to protect the cygnet. As the panic increased the cygnet was pulling the line and branch behind it and other cygnets were getting caught up too. They all headed down to their island sanctuary where the two cygnets now tangled together got out of the water onto the island to escape the willow branch trailing behind them. By the time I got onto the island, Penny had got out of the water only to get caught on the line in the grass, it was fast becoming a nightmare. As I approached them, Penny went back into the water pulling the line and branch as I grabbed for the line before it disappeared through my fingers ! She had inadvertently taken the problem to herself as it became disengaged from the cygnets. She swam round the island as I called them all back to the moat, when they appeared  Penny was free of the line and branch !!

                               I will get onto the island tonight when the tide goes out to see if I can find the line and branch before they get caught again.
This is 3 incidents in 3 weeks, causing pain and trauma to our waterfowl. 
The Scottish SPCA Inspector said that this requires some action and warning signs on the Merryton bridge, the River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust agrees with this assessment and will see what can be done.

UPDATE : Tonight after a close inspection of the Island and Moat, I found the offending line under the water in the dead part of the moat, it was not taken away by the tide and would almost certainly have caused more mayhem if it had not been found. When I held it up for Penny to see, she raised her wings and hissed at me - she knew damn fine what I had found !! 

Thursday, 18 August 2016

On The Mend

Penny is on the mend and was using her sore leg today, it was good to see her taking charge once more and even had a short flight to encourage the cygnets to exercise their wings. 

The bond and trust I have built up over the years has been re - established, after the stress of catching her and removing the hooks the other day, she again took some wholemeal from my hand today- so all is forgiven.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Painful Penny

Penny is undoubtedly suffering some pain after the hook extractions, the right leg in particular. The hook was fully embedded in the middle leg joint and the line went from there to the next hook on the outer edge of her wing, then to the heavy lead weight which was trailing behind. This meant that any wing movement, or the weight being dragged and bumping along the bottom would have been pretty excruciating for her.

Today she has been resting up on the island and in the Harbour, and avoiding any use of her right leg. 

She has eaten only a small amount and flexing her webbed foot from time to time. I see no sign of swelling as yet which would indicate infection, but will continue to keep a close eye on her.  

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Penny Injured With Hooks

Yet again the curse of fishing hooks causing injury to the Swans. 

This evening I realised something was wrong when Penny was reluctant to walk across the Swans island and held her right wing at an odd angle. She eventually got into the moat and was head nodding to me over and over again as though trying to tell me something. She was holding her right leg partially out of the water and tried to stretch her right wing, it was then I spotted the mackerel trace of hooks. 

One was embedded in her leg joint and another two stuck in her right wing, she was trailing a fourth and a heavy lead weight and about 15 yards of nylon line. It was vital to catch her and remove the hooks. I did not want to leave her and the rest of the family, knowing that if they got into the river she would be difficult to catch. I started feeding them and phoned the Scottish SPCA, in the hope that one of their inspectors would be in the vicinity. My luck was in, and Inspector Jamie said he would be with me in half an hour. Armed with two catching poles we both ushered Penny up the Moat to the narrowest part and I managed to get her with the hooked pole and haul her onto the island, Jamie jumped over and we started disentangling the line and removed each hook in turn. The one that was worst was embedded in her leg joint but I got it out OK. She was upset but knew we were helping her, and I gave her a head nod and spoke to her before letting her go. She was mightily relieved and rejoined Popeye and the cygnets back in the moat. Hopefully she wont get any infection from the hooks since they were fairly clean and not used for bait. 

 Also hope we don't get any more plonkers fishing near the harbour with the pointless use of mackerel traces !!

Monday, 15 August 2016

A Summers Day

With the school holidays at an end, Summer arrived today. Our Summer weather has been appalling , so today was a welcome break and relief to see some blue sky after weeks of grey.

Even the Swans took advantage, and stretched their wings in the gentle summer breeze.

Penny as always escorts and encourages the cygnets to flap their immature wings, as this will be the start of pre - flight training resulting in flying lessons next month.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Weeks Events

The cygnet that had the hook removed from it's throat appears to have made a full recovery after the ordeal.

Relentless rain virtually every day has not helped my mood, and has left the Aviary in a mess, unable to dry out. 

Some large broken trees from last weeks gale force winds were washed down river, and shifted a fair amount of shingle in the process.
The mother duck whose brood of eight I am currently caring for is nesting again ! 

 This is late in the season, and the weather is likely to be against any broods that hatch late.
With high water most of the week the Salmon run is well and truly on the go, and I suspect most of the fish are already well up river.

Penny has regrown her new feathers and should be starting the cygnets pre flying lessons any day now. 

The Call ducklings are as cute as ever....they're  the only bright thing about last week !

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Gabriel's Wings

A few weeks ago I received an email from a Lady called Wendy Grocott - Jones down South on Merseyside.Wendy and her friends of Sankey Canal Swans, suspected one of their 2 month old cygnets called "Gabriel" was developing Angel Wing and was looking for guidance on the internet as to what could be done to help. 

The local RSPCA wanted to Euthanise it, but Wendy was determined to save it if possible. After discovering the Trust website and sending me a few photo's, I was able to confirm that the cygnet was indeed developing angel wing.

Having previously cured one of our cygnets  called "Lefty " a few years back, I was able to pass on my experience, advice, and reassure Wendy that their cygnet Called "Gabriel" was curable at this early stage. Wendy and her friends took decisive action and managed to get the cygnet to the Yorkshire Swan Hospital where it was treated successfully and cured of the Angel wing.

 This condition can be inherited or caused by a high protein diet. In this case I feel it may well be an inherited condition since the development was on both wings and at too early stage to be a protein problem. When the wings grow outward from the body, the cygnet will be unable to fly and possibly be attacked and killed by the parents if unable to fledge.
Full marks to Wendy and her friends of Sankey canal and Yorkshire swan hospital , for saving "Gabriel" the cygnet. It's good to know that there are people all over the country who take the welfare of their local wildlife seriously, whether it be on a canal, garden or riverside.  

Monday, 8 August 2016

Call Ducklings and Others

The Mother duck with 11 ducklings has been stuck in the aviary for a month now, but as luck would have it she started to moult a few days ago. This means she will be unable to fly for at least 2 weeks, this allows me to let her and the 11 ducklings out into the garden for a welcome break. They were running around and diving into the tubs, and having a good chew at the grass. By the time she regrows her new feathers it will be time to release them back to the river.

Meanwhile the call ducklings, are enjoying life and a nice paddle around the wash hand basin. They seem happy with human contact, unlike the mallard ducklings - short movie clip below.


Saturday, 6 August 2016

New Home For White Duck

After losing the previous white duck in the river, I decided to give the last one to a family in Auldearn with a Pond. It has joined some of it's siblings and other ducks, and I can report is very happy to be there. Being white stands out a mile, and a potential target for predators on the river.

Meanwhile the Motherless ducklings I have under care are developing well, and will be released into the river in due course.

Friday, 5 August 2016

The Summer That Never Was

With high Summer over, an air of despondency hangs over many of us in this part of the world. 

The ability to get some good photos has been limited due to constant bad weather, with leaden skies and rain always threatening. The TV weather forecasters ears must be ringing, and of course the English too, who can blame the dour Scots for the summer that never was ? I think even the Romans realised it was best to build a wall and stay south of the border, weather was probably as bad then ! 
Regardless of the weather, my daily river bird feeding regime continues even with the river in spate. Our swan family always manage to get into a backwater for their share.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Black Magic

Sadly the two remaining call duck eggs did not hatch and died in shell.

It seems this is a common occurrence with call ducks. It is particularly sad because I knew they were both alive 3 days before the hatching date.

 Thank God I have two alive and well that survived, they are inseparable and need each others company. 

In view of the black one and the other a chocolate colour, I have decided to call them Black magic.

They are so affectionate, sweet, and snuggle together at every opportunity.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Call Ducks Hatch

The eagerly awaited hatching of the call ducks started yesterday, and as I write, two have hatched another unable to break out during the night has died in shell, and I await two final eggs to hatch - if they do !

                         I was told they were Black call duck hatching eggs, but as you can see - only one black at the moment.

Was also lead to believe that call ducks are notoriously difficult to hatch, and the final incubation stage appears to be the case, I had to help the light coloured one get out of the shell at midnight, otherwise it probably wouldn't have made it. They are cute though !

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Angie Comes Back

There are some moments that are truly heart warming when dealing with wildlife. 

Three days ago I released Angie the fledgling Wood pigeon brought to me a about 10 days ago by Angela the Dog warden. I always hope these birds survive but sometimes they fall prey to predators, being young and inexperienced as they are. However this morning after feeding the ducklings in the garden, I looked up to see Angie sitting on top of the Aviary !  The joy of seeing her return apparently unscathed was immense. I quickly gave her a handful of specially  prepared feed that she was getting during her 10 day stay, she happily filled her crop and after a gentle stroke of her breast feathers she flew up and away. Wood Pigeons are delightful , gentle and beautiful birds.