Monday, 21 August 2017

Another Casualty

The injured duck I spotted on Saturday is now in care with the Trust. I managed to catch her this morning which was not too difficult because she is moulting and unable to fly. 

Her bill has been badly damaged and part of it was removed at the vets this morning.

She will return to the vet on Wednesday to assess whether some of the lower Mandible needs removed as well.

Meanwhile I will give her antibiotics and painkiller  twice a day, as well as anti bacterial cream on her flesh wound. I really hope I can save this bird as we have lost at least 4 female ducks in the past week ! August is the worst month, as many of the females are moulting and easy prey for predators.

Ducklings Released

After 9 weeks care in the comfort of the Trust , the 6 ducklings hatched by the duck with the broken dislocated wing have been released into the river. The mother would not survive in the wild, so will remain with the Trust for life. She has done a fabulous job rearing them over the past 9 weeks and they can now fly and take care of themselves.

They have been exposed to all kinds of dangers in the open garden for the past few weeks, and know what to do when danger threatens. Short clip below of the fun and antics they have had in recent times. The mother is the one with the wing tip pointing skywards !


Local Hero

For the past month there has been a huge tree root sitting close to the moat entrance, this threatened to block the moat during the next big spate. It has been on my mind for weeks, and I have been waiting for a spring tide to move it away from the area. I purchased  a 50 metre rope with the idea of tying it to the root and the Merryton bridge so as to allow the rising tide to swing it away from the moat channel. However it became obvious that it needed a push as well. This week has a spring tide and I am now feeling my age, so needed an action man to give us a hand. My first thought was to contact local supporter and tradesman Gary Reid who tackled the same problem for us 5 years ago, by moving a massive tree root  from the moat all by himself. Gary is a star, and was quick to offer his services by donning his wet suit and wading into the river during the dark, hitching a rope onto it and tying it to the Merryton bridge supports. High tide was at midnight but Gary rocked that root around until it was shifted into the main river channel before 11pm tonight. Gary has been a real local hero to the Trust, and avoided the Trust having to get a local contractor with all the red tape that would have involved. The Trust is very grateful to our local hero, Thank you Gary.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Bad Week

It has been a bad week on the river with several ducks killed and Duke still not a happy boy. 

The biggest shock came yesterday when I discovered the severed head of the feisty little duckling that I had so carefully nurtured back to good health after the Black back attack a few weeks ago.  It lasted another 18 days and was growing well. The black backed gull again attacked and killed not only the duckling but an adult female duck as well, most likely it's mother, for I found both just 2 feet apart.

Several days before, I discovered another carcase of a female duck - again almost picked clean. It's pretty upsetting when you care for wildlife that then gets killed when you know their desire to live is so strong.
I have delayed the release of the 6 ducklings I have at home, for fear of the black back killing them, they wont have their Mother with them for guidance.  The Great Black back is feeding it's young and is killing ducks virtually everyday. The ducks are moulting and the ducklings also cant fly at this time, it has been carnage this week.

Today I discovered another badly injured duck at the swans Island and may have to catch it for treatment. In addition, Duke is still not well although still eating but very lethargic and listless. I may have to get the SPCA to take him away again, but I think there's a limit to how often they will do this.  Weather has also been poor, bad week indeed !

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Goosander Brood

Another sign of a good bird breeding season. 

An adult Goosander with 10 young ones in tow earlier this evening, they came from up river somewhere.

Black Backed Gull Victims

A Great black back Gull has been claiming many ducks in recent weeks.

It knows the ducks are vulnerable at this time of year as most of them are moulting and cannot fly, and ducklings who also cannot fly.

The sibling of the one I released recently has been killed a few days ago, and the mother of 5 ducklings had a lucky escape while protecting her brood. 

Saw her being grabbed, and started clapping my hands as I ran onto the Merryton bridge to allow her escape. She has a few ruffled feathers to show for it. These are dangerous times for the vulnerable water fowl.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Bailey Pigeon Release

The young rescued pigeon that fell from the Bailey bridge 2 weeks ago was released today.

It was hand fed for 10 days then put in the outside Aviary, feeding itself for 4 days.

It has as good a chance as any for Town survival.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Duke Below Par

It's 11 months since Duke arrived on the scene after the death of Popeye last September. 

Once again Duke is on the slide and below par. He has been taken down twice to the SPCA wildlife rescue centre and given antibiotics and anti parasitic drugs. However he is forever getting unwell, and has recently taken himself up river for 4 days but seemed to have got better and returned down to rejoin Penny. Both of them are in full moult and Duke is once again off his food, lethargic and tired. I have been reluctant to get him carted off to the rescue centre again, and would prefer if he can overcome whatever is ailing him without constant veterinary intervention. 
My guess is he is lacking greenery,  river weed, pond weed and eel grass, probably what his diet used to be wherever he came from. The big flash flood we had in June basically washed all the river weed and algae away, depriving all the waterbirds of their natural feeding. 

Yesterday Duke was searching for something from the riverbed, perhaps minerals or nutrients that might make him better. I am monitoring him twice a day and will intervene if I have to. Other than having a lethargic and hang dog appearance, he looks in fairly good condition. 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Goose End Of The Line

Took the Goose to the Vet this morning, diagnosis was that the badly broken leg could not be saved. The injury appears to have happened a while back, probably came down hard on a wet road mistaking it for a river. This is quite plausible since we've had plenty of wet weather recently. 
The local Moray Coast Vets initially agreed to amputate the leg even though this would have reduced it's survivability and quality of life. However they then consulted with the Manager of the Scottish SPCA wildlife rescue centre for advice. The advice was euthanasia, as geese do a lot of walking and being a heavy bird would find life difficult hopping around and landing on one leg, it would also be pestered by male geese. Another avian vet was consulted in Glasgow, and the consensus was to put it to sleep. Reluctantly I had to accept the expert opinion and allow them to go ahead with the euthanasia. If I break a leg, I only hope it's not a Vet in charge of the decision making !

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Wild Goose Chase Ends !

Finally managed to catch the Injured Greylag Goose this evening. Using the biggest net I have with extendible shaft, a lot of gentle persuasion and guessing the right way it would go, I managed to get the net over it before it could take flight. The leg is broken but already starting to mend wrongly. I started initial treatment with a dose of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory pain relief.  I will take it to the vet tomorrow to see what can be done to save it. It is one tough bird and so far has managed to survive in spite of painful broken leg.

Meanwhile it will spend the night in the aviary with all mod cons.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Painful Goose Step

The Greylag goose that has taken to the swans Island Haven is still there. From today's observations I can see what looks like a very painful compound fracture of the right  leg. 

This does not bode well and the swelling indicates possible infection too.  I will make another attempt to capture it tomorrow. It's a tough bird and is still eating and preening, how sad it was to watch it trying to lift it's broken leg to scratch it's face.
It's ability to fly makes capture nigh on impossible !

Heron & Moorhen

The feeding of the waterfowl at Merryton bridge is attracting quite a following, and I don't just mean people.

The Heron and Moorhen  are now frequently in the vicinity too. 
Not to mention my Pigeon pal as well !

Monday, 7 August 2017

Penny and Duke

Penny and Duke are back together after Duke had another 4 days alone up river.

This was fortunate, for he missed much of the sewer rainfall run off into the lower river last week. He is in full moult right now, and this may make him slightly off colour at this time. They look well  enough.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

How To Feed a Young Pigeon

The young pigeon rescued 6 days ago from the river will soon be fledged and released. I have been feeding it 5 times a day and is now thriving. It should be safe to release in a few days. 

Feed mixture was porridge oats, mealworm, thawed garden peas, and chick crumb starter, all liquidised to a consistency of thick custard !

This allows the bird to quickly fill it's crop, as it would from the mother bird. I used an empty pill container, a piece of rubber glove with a suitable slit in the end  Short movie below on how to feed a young Pigeon.


FOOTNOTE: For the inexperienced wrap the bird in a towel, and make sure you make the food mix with warm water.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Back By Popular Demand

Having sold out all copies of the fabulous Swans Calendar created for the 10th Anniversary of the Swans Island. I have been asked by our well known newsagents and calendar shop Strachans, to provide some more. 
I have therefore had a limited amount reprinted. You can either get one at Strachans Nairn,  see me directly, or order online. 

This calendar and photo's are special, and all funds go to the welfare and care of the River Nairn waterbirds.  

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Runt Released

The Riverpark Runt along with her two offspring have finally been released into the river. 

They are all capable of flight, so hopefully can escape any dangerous predators. She has spent many months in the garden but now is the time for her to go.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017


Nice weather for ducks....I think not ! The Scottish Summer lives up to it's reputation with a deluge, after torrential showers earlier. I released the duckling I treated for 2 weeks yesterday, I was hoping for some reasonable weather allowing it time to find it's mother. The Mother and other sibling seem to have disappeared for the moment and the duckling is now on it's own.

It was soaked this morning and even the well oiled ducks were hiding, as the area took a rainstorm battering.

                              I saw a greylag goose on the island the other day and saw yesterday that it appears to have a broken leg.

Donning the waterproof gear I took the net and bag to see if I could catch the goose and get it some medical attention. Conditions were miserable with heavy rain and the goose was sitting beside the Swans island. Needless to say, it managed to fly out of reach and I had to give up after it flew into the river. 

Even the released duckling was able to out run me and hide in the bushes. I fear it may not survive without the guidance and protection of it's mother. Another couple of weeks growing might give it a better chance.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Gurn Boss Rescue

The Editor and Boss of the Gurn from Nurn did a dramatic rescue at the Bailey bridge today. Having heard a commotion at the bridge he saw a young pigeon that had fallen into the River Nairn, probably from a nest underneath. Wading across the river at the expense of a good soaking himself,  he managed to rescue the wet and shivering bird and brought it to the Trust rehab centre. Well Done Des !
The bird is recovering well, has dried out and is now eating.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Injured Duckling Recovers

Two weeks ago today I rescued a badly injured duckling after an attack by a Black backed gull.

After a short course of antibiotics, anti inflammatory,  and anti bacterial cream applied daily to the bared neck, I am pleased to see the positive results.

There is still a small bare area at the back of the neck and it may be a permanent feature, otherwise all of the neck and face injuries have healed. This duckling happens to be a female so even more important that it survived. Providing the mother still has the other sibling I will return it to the river shortly.