Sunday, 14 February 2016

Northerly Chill

Spending the usual hour and half feeding all our river birds, I was almost numb with the Northerly breeze blowing right up the riverside. The leaden skies, and frequent sleet showers added to the chill. It is also a reminder that the prevailing summer wind direction tends to come from the north and west, which is the reason we should all be against any ship to ship oil transfers across the firth. Any accidental oil spill would threaten our highly valued beaches. 

With only an inch of snow we are still getting off lightly this winter far !

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Getting That Loving Feeling

It's no coincidence that birds look their best as spring approaches. Popeye and Penny are no exception, the radiance of their plumage is stunningly white just now.

They are getting that loving feeling ...and it shows !

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Near Miss

My attention was drawn to a commotion outside my window today. Looking out I saw the reason why, a Sparrowhawk had a near miss on a target next to the window. After I managed to get a shot it flew off, and I discovered two terrified birds under the bush, a Blackbird  and a Sparrow, they live another day !

Monday, 8 February 2016

Perennial Problem

No, this is not Popeye and Penny checking out their family tree. Just the perennial problem of trees being washed down river and bringing thousands of tons of shingle with them. The baskets installed around the bridge supports in my opinion were a big mistake, they not only catch dozens of trees but also allow the shingle to pile up down stream.

It would have made much more sense to have built concrete diamond shaped foundation supports, allowing freedom of flow and less chance of trees getting snagged.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

United Against Ship to Ship Oil Transfers

                           I am pleased to see the RSPB have also come out against the proposed Ship to Ship oil Transfers in the Cromarty and Moray Firth. From what I can see there is widespread and local opposition, and rightly so.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency ( MCA ) are likely to be bombarded by plea's and petitions, from every section of the highland community, in favour of the natural world and our local wildlife. 

The last thing we want are images of birds on our beaches like the ones shown here !

Friday, 5 February 2016

Pigeon Down But Not Out

The Pigeon with The broken wing has now been moved into the Aviary. Unfortunately the broken wing is still hanging down and will always be that way. The healing process was already well under way when I caught it, and the broken wrist bones have permanently fused together. However the 2 week containment of the bird and anti inflammatory medication has allowed it to heal enough to fly. It has been able to fly up to the shelf in the aviary, and I will keep it another week or so before releasing it into the garden.

Allowing complete healing will give it the best chance of sustained flying ability. The wing is down, but it's not out !

Feasting and Resting

The prelude to Spring stirs Penny into a new mode of feasting and resting, prior to the nesting season. She stocks up on a variety of mixed wild bird seeds, Porridge oats, and wholemeal. As mating and nesting time approaches, she gets very fussy on what she eats, and concentrates on Algae, seaweed and minerals needed for egg production. Meanwhile she is building up her reserves and sookin up the seeds in the short clip below. (Apologies if you cant view using chrome browser, there seems to be an issue with this just now, try Internet explorer ) 


Wednesday, 3 February 2016


After the storms a brief respite today, even a spot of sunshine.

Our resident pair had a long preening session, keeping themselves in tip top shape for the coming spring !

Monday, 1 February 2016

Hunkering Down

With the river in spate and a spate of stormy weather, the birds are hunkering down to face the onslaught.

The Swans island is the only haven available when the river is high.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Pigeon Wing Improvement

After 5 days the pigeon with the broken wing finally picked off the bandage !  I have been giving it an anti inflammatory every day and this should have helped. The broken wing is now in a more natural position, but I will keep it in a confined brooding box for a few more days before putting it outside in the aviary. I want to make sure the wing has healed enough to allow gradual use before final release. 

Meanwhile it enjoys the company of a ducks Photo,  plenty of food and TLC, not to mention missing all the horrendous weather !

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Pigeon Wing Repair

Yet another Pigeon casualty visiting the garden. This one was trailing one wing on the ground and reluctant to fly. Easily caught, I had a close look and could see and feel the wing has been broken at the wrist. It has already started to mend in the wrong position and the wrist is a complex area for a break. I have bandaged it into a more correct position, but might be too late for a full fix, time will tell.

Saturday, 23 January 2016


The annual Trustees meeting of the River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust took place last week.

All trustees were present except our Avian adviser who lives in Swindon and manages her own sanctuary.
Items discussed were how to eliminate the annual shortfall in funds - by recruiting more members, and the production of Trust related merchandise, like a 12 page Swan Calendar and perhaps other items for next Christmas. These items can be pre ordered by members in time for Christmas gift giving.  Trust membership has now reached 160 which includes family members. We also discussed the possibility of applying for Nurturing Nairnshire funds which will be looked into. One other major item for discussion was how we can offset the heavy increased predation by Crows on the new seasons cygnets and ducklings. The Trust has asked for and been given advice from SNH and others in this regard. 

One tactic which proved valuable last year was putting a dead Crow on the Swans island as a warning and deterrent to other crows to keep away during hatching time. 

The trust would like to repeat this and ask anyone who can supply a few dead Crows, perhaps road kills that I could freeze and then use during the cygnet hatching time to get in touch. Hoodie Crows are the biggest killers on the river, so having two or three placed around the Swans island might be a great help. The Trust would be entitled to use humane trapping methods, but this location might be upsetting to some people. 
Predation and dog disturbance of nesting ducks on the riverside means that more ducks are choosing to nest throughout the town away from the riverside. This means safer hatching , but often a long dangerous trek to a watercourse. 

Crossing busy roads and often Ducklings unable to escape from enclosed gardens or unusual places is a survival problem. With this in mind, the Trust will now have a mobile bird rescue number for members of the public to call or text. This will allow us to assist any mother duck with a trapped brood to get to safety.

We had occasion to do this successfully several times last year.  Maybe one day when we get a road bypass the ducks will stand less chance of being run over !  The library photo display organised by our secretary Morag Paterson, was lauded by many and gratefully acknowledged.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Two's Company

Our beautiful duo Popeye and Penny are in excellent condition and look great together. I had the opportunity during a short sunny spell for some in- step shots as they were coming for a feed. 

Tuesday, 19 January 2016


The proposal to increase ship to ship oil transfers in the Cromarty Firth gets a resounding NO from the River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust. The Moray Firth is a narrow stretch of water and any accidental spill would be a calamity for the area. The Marine and coastal environment is precious and needs protection at all times. On behalf of our 159 members I have signed the online petition launched by the petition site. 

The past couple of weeks produced many exhausted seabirds washed up on the shores of the entire firth due to weather and tidal conditions, just imagine if an oil spill occurred during this time as well. I hope our local and regional councillors will also voice their official opposition to this proposal ! Anyone wishing to sign the online petition can do so HERE.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Cold Snap

After the coldest snap of the year so far, the ice on freshwater has brought in a tufted duck.

This little guy had no inhibitions about getting stuck into the grain along with the Mallards. 

The Harbour was also freezing over and the birds are keen to feed, 

keeping out the cold !

Friday, 15 January 2016

Bonnie Birds

Popeye and Penny chilling out during the big chill !

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Little Auk

Yet another Little Auk stranded on Nairn Beach this morning. A local dog walker brought me this Little Auk he found on central beach, it was exhausted and appears to have been blown off course with many other sea birds in recent days. 

These Arctic birds usually live and feed on plankton on the open sea during winter. It remains to be seen if it will survive.
UPDATE: In spite of my best efforts, sadly the Little Auk died within a few hours.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Heart Warming Reminder

With Winter weather on the way, what could be nicer than a heart warming reminder of the meaning of life!