Wednesday, 26 October 2016


The Petition launched 3 weeks ago is now edging towards one thousand signatories. In spite of sniping from some quarters, the People of Nairn and friends of The River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust have stepped up to the plate in support of a designated wildlife area for the Water birds. I am gratified by the fantastic support in such a short period of time, and thank each and every one of you who signed either on-line or in paper form. I have now put a closing date on the petition of the 4th of November. 
Anyone still wishing to sign the petition can do so HERE.
( don't be put off by USA when you enter your postcode, it will be shown as the United kingdom ).

Our local politicians will be presented with the final tally the week after closing. It will be up to them to take cognisance of the public support and proposals of the Trust for a designated wildlife area. Support came from every strand of the Nairn population, including anglers and boat owners. One young man put reasoning to his signature by saying how important it was for humanity to stay connected to wildlife and the natural world, I couldn't have put it better myself ! 

Little Grebe Again

Seems we have a Little Grebe that has taken a liking to the river Nairn, it is getting more adventurous and now travels up to the Merryton bridge.

Had a chance to get a few shots today as it weaved it's way upstream between the ducks.

It's size is more apparent against the Mallards, as the shots show.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Lone Cygnet

Yesterday a lone cygnet entered the river, it's not one of Penny's and may have come along the shore from the old bar or Findhorn direction.

Duke and Penny escorted it out of the harbour, but it appears to have returned today.

It is no threat and looking for feeding and fresh water, and will be moved along when our residents want it. 

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Origin of Duke

Having done some research and detective work about the appearance of Duke. My first guess that he has come from Brodie, appears to be correct. Having spoken to a couple who were regular visitors to Brodie they confirmed that there was a lone swan there for quite some time.

This Swan disappeared about 5 or 6 weeks ago, which coincides with the appearance of a lone swan in the bay off the end of Nairn Pier.

This Swan came into contact with our resident family when they had trips offshore, and was promptly chased off by Popeye.  Since Popeye's demise this left the door open for this lone swan and Penny obviously knew this. It seems the lone swan must have lost his mate and as luck would have it , Penny suddenly became eligible ...a very happy coincidence for a widow and widower !!  I am told the Brodie swans only ever seemed to produce 2 or 3 cygnets compared to Penny with an average of 7. There could be a simple explanation for this, there are more predators at Brodie, like foxes and badgers, and the nest site there is more vulnerable too. On the other hand Duke could be a lot older than I think, and perhaps not a great performer, we will know as spring approaches !

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Seven In River Heaven.

The 7 lucky ducklings that have just spent the last 8 weeks at the rectory garden, were finally escorted down to the riverside by trust members Alison and Chris Reid. Down Queen and rose street to the river at the old cemetery, watching out for dogs and traffic. 

The mother duck was happily in front and pleased to return to the river, where they met up with the September brood of 9, approx the same age so there will be some fun to be had for all of them.

All went well until we saw the smallest of the brood being picked on by all the others. Later I had to rescue it when it got separated from the brood who headed back up river. I will keep it safe until it's wings are developed enough to get it out of danger.

Meanwhile it has an aviary all to itself with all mod cons.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016


Ever since Penny turned up with our new Cob, I have been asked several times what his name was. I had not yet thought about a name, and Popeye the second was too much.

However he has certain characteristics which reminded me of John Wayne, who's nickname was"Duke". 

From what I see, he is fearless, very relaxed, friendly and laid back for a male Swan, so the name Duke seemed just right. 

Penny and Duke are getting to know each other really well, I watched them this morning as Penny approached from the island where Duke was standing under Merryton bridge.

She was confident, relaxed and in control, as he observed the protocols by raising his wings and eye-balling each other, as they mirrored their movements in unison.

He also let out a loud grunt of approval at her approach.

Things are looking good for the pair of them. I also managed to get a close look at the underside of his bill for an indication of his age, I don't think he is as old as Penny but nevertheless not as young as I initially thought, perhaps around 10 or 12. 

He most likely lost his mate and rejoined a flock where Penny probably met him when she dropped the cygnets off. Widow meets widower - It looks good, but time will tell between now and spring.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Designated Wildlife Haven - The Case For

Let me say at the outset, this only applies to the area between the A96 road bridge, and the bailey bridge on the River Nairn, it therefore does not effect any other part. 

Waterfowl have taken millions of years to evolve - long before humans. They are called waterfowl because their home environment is water, this fact alone should give them priority over frivolous human water based activities.

They have many predators, humans, Crows, Gulls, Heron, Otter, Mink, Seals, foxes, stoats and weasels,Dogs, Rats and Cats. It's no wonder they use the water as a means of survival. Nairn is a small coastal town, some would say dying on it's feet, with shop closures lack of investment, jobs and affordable housing. 

The leisure industry is one that is growing, and being a coastal town one of it's main attributes is tourism. One of my arguments for a designated wildlife haven, is to use the Natural assets the town has. What could be more Natural, costing the public purse ZERO than to declare part of the riverside a wildlife Haven.

This is an attraction that is open 365 days a year, regardless of the weather, or tides.

We have beaches and river walks all of which are available 365 days a year, but the weather dictates their appeal. The last 30 years have brought the natural world into sharp focus, with our understanding of the planet and it's myriad of life species.

People now appreciate the diversity of life more than ever, and many consider it a privilege and pleasure to see it close at hand in a natural setting. Nairn has this Natural setting and some wildlife that is pleasing to all. 

Declaring this small area a wildlife haven, would cost nothing, and all that would be needed is a few advisory signs eluding to that fact. It would change peoples perception and help promote a more responsible attitude to littering and pollution. It would bring more visitors who value the natural world, and Nairn would enhance it's standing as a caring coastal town.

There are many reasons this area is ideal as a wildlife haven. There are two islands available to the water birds, where they can nest and loaf and escape predators.

It is tidal, and therefore does not freeze  in the winter, it provides a food source for over wintering birds. It's location means it can be policed easily and avoids certain predators. I have heard people say that building a weir or two on the lower river would allow boating. Let me dispel any notion of that idea.

The river Nairn is a small spate river, prone to flash flooding and tidal surges, building any kind of barrier at the end of this river would be courting disaster.

The volume of gravel and trees that are washed down this river would get caught on any weir, and depending on the tides at the time, could cause major flooding of Fishertown. Moving water is dynamic and should be treated with a great deal of respect ! The above is my case for a wildlife haven. If you agree, please sign the petition. 

The local angling community would still have the right to fish there, but it is hoped they would suspend this, in the interests of conserving salmon stocks and wildlife safety. The boating fraternity would not be a problem providing they confined their activity below the end of the Maggot wall, thereby leaving the wildlife in peace to nest on the islands and riverbanks. The whole of Nairn would be the winners along with it's wildlife.    

Friday, 14 October 2016

Sparrowhawk Eyes Up My Ducks !

You can tell it's Autumn as the colder longer nights increase the hunt for food. The local Sparrowhawk has increased it's attacks on my garden Sparrows, and today was eyeing up my call ducks.

Having recently built a duckpond , it proved it's worth today when they hurriedly jumped in to escape the Sparrowhawk.
I heard a commotion and looked out the window to see the hawk wondering if it had chance to get one ! 


The river seal is back on the prowl again with the coming high tides this week, his main diet is fish but he will take duck if given the chance.

The ducks are pretty clued up about his presence, and the alarm goes out as they all head to the sides and shallow water.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Another New Arrival !

Looks like the word is out that the Swans island is up for grabs. Another Male swan has arrived in the river.

This morning one of the Trust members told me he saw 2 in the river and another 2 fly in and land on the water. There was then a fight and 2 driven out, fortunately it was not Penny. 

When I arrived two of them were at the island and headed up when they saw me. Penny first and then the big male, he was very tame fearless, and totally the opposite of the one 2 days ago.

 He is either one of Penny's offspring from years ago, or has come from another place where he was hand fed, maybe Brodie, Forres, or Findhorn. 

She later stood on the island and had a nap letting him get on with patrolling the river as though he were Popeye.

They did eat grain together, and he did a bit of posturing which Penny ignored.  The plot thickens !!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016


After the tragic loss of Popeye a few weeks ago and Penny taking the cygnets away I wondered how she would handle this new scenario.

My hopes that she would find a new mate have been given a huge boost today. 

After her absence all day yesterday I was delighted to see her escorting a new young swan up the river this morning.

Could hardly hold the camera steady as I wanted to get some good shots, to tell if it was a new male friend.

Penny came right up for her usual grain feed but her friend stayed back, very wary and cautious, my heart leapt as I zoomed in and realised it was a young male!

Penny has got herself a potential new mate !!
This is the miracle I hoped for, it means she has accepted the fact that Popeye has gone for good, and the next chapter in her life has begun, a real life fairy tale if ever there was one. 

He is young, tall,   handsome and slim, and not one of her offspring, I only hope they get on enough to make a new life together. 

The signs are good since I watched their interactions for some time, both this morning and this evening and they are looking great.

He is naturally very wary and cautious, Penny has been showing him the extent of her territory, the island, the harbour and around merryton bridge. He has followed her slavishly with mirroring movements, head dipping and preening. These are all very positive signs of a beautiful friendship, and maybe a lot more !
Watch this space !!