Thursday, 19 October 2017

Firhall Village Forum



Today I gave a talk to the Firhall Village Forum on the outskirts of Nairn. I had been asked some time ago if I could give a talk on the River Nairn Wildlife, and the water birds in particular. I have never given a talk to an organised audience before and was reluctant to do so. However for the benefit of the Trust and the birds and with some trepidation I agreed. I was warmly received by a couple of dozen residents all retired over 50, as Firhall is a retirement village. 


The talk lasted about an hour and just flew by, unscripted I found it easy to talk about my favourite birds and the relationship I have with them. The Village has a small pond and has a couple of ducks that rear their ducklings every summer. 


These ducklings return to the river and ultimately end up down at the lower river, cared for by the Trust. The Forum Chair and residents were most appreciative, and a collection for the Trust at the close raised £111. On behalf of the trust Thank you,  I am most grateful for the kind words and generous positive response. They have invited me to return some time in the future too, Thank you.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Brief Respite



Today gives us a welcome respite from the poor weather of recent days, positively spring like.


Even the frisky ducks thought so. 


With the river in spate and high tides, the Seal was on the prowl for any late running Salmon. 


While Penny and Duke led a flotilla of ducks upstream - beautiful day on the River !

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Almost Grown



The last nine ducklings are almost fully grown and virtually the size of their Mum.



She has done a wonderful job keeping them together and showing them their river home environment.


All being well they should be ready for flight by the end of the month, wing feathers are developing nicely.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The Summer That Never Was




Today I again had the privilege of being really close to Penny. After knowing her 13 years, I honestly believe she almost considers me as another Swan. She does communicate with me on a daily basis by head nods and grunts. Although I don't know the exact meaning of all the nuances in sounds, I know that some are saying this is good, and please give me more, they are appreciative. 



The ultimate feeling of security in my presence is displayed when she sleeps beside me just feet away, what a privilege !
If you have never seen my short film on a year in the life of the Nairn swans then I think you might enjoy it on Youtube.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4Iyer7-U6w&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL   Just  cut and paste the above link into your browser. It is a reminder of Penny's 9 year contribution and the Summer that never was on the river, It is made up of stills and video, enjoy !

Monday, 9 October 2017

Autumn Changes

The Angling Season has now ended on the River Nairn, and the riverside birds show the Autumn changes. Flocks of birds can be seen in the air and on the land. 



The Redshanks are again frequenting the riverside, 


and the Little grebe continues fishing undisturbed.




Friday, 6 October 2017

Moulting Complete



Our beautiful pair of Swans have completed their annual moulting. Duke will now be able to fly and defend the territory more effectively if required. Moulting requires a lot of protein and energy replacing all the feathers on such a large bird. 


Duke has been eating all the extra goodies like dried Mealworm, which are high in protein, as well as mixed wild bird seed, and spratts pellets, all ideal food for moulting birds, including the mother ducks. Their moulting is timed to start after they have reared their ducklings for about 6 weeks. This means that the whole family is vulnerable until all of them grow their new flight feathers, about 10 weeks for the ducklings and the mother takes about 3 to 4 weeks, which coincides with her babies. The last duckling family below, have about 3 weeks to go, 



(and the mother to the left of the photo ) will have her new plumage by then as well, allowing them all to fly at the same time. 


Thursday, 5 October 2017

Vet and Duck Humour

Going through my archives, came across an old duck humour story...I think all animal lovers can relate to this one !   Enjoy....

 The Dead Duck Story.

A woman brought a very limp duck into a veterinary surgery clinic. As she
placed her pet on the table, the vet pulled out his stethoscope
and listened to the bird's chest. After a moment or two, the vet shook his head sadly and said, "I'm so sorry, your duck has passed away."

The distressed owner wailed, "Are you sure?" "Yes, I am sure. The duck is
dead," he replied. "How can you be so sure?" she protested. "I mean, you haven't done any testing on him or anything. He might just be in a coma or something."

The vet rolled his eyes, turned around and left the room. He
returned a few moments later with a black Labrador Retriever. As the duck's owner looked on in amazement, the dog stood on his hind legs,  put his front paws on the examination table and sniffed the duck from top to bottom. He then looked at the vet with sad eyes and shook
his head. The vet patted the dog on the head and led him out of the room.
A few minutes later, he returned with a cat. The cat jumped
 up on the table and sniffed delicately at the bird. The cat sat back on its haunches, shook its head, meowed softly and strolled out of the room.
The vet looked at the woman and said, "I'm sorry, but as I said, this is most definitely, 100 percent a dead duck." Then the  vet turned to his computer terminal, hit a few keys and produced a bill, which he handed to the woman.
The duck's owner, still in shock, took the bill for £300 and
gasped. "£300 just to tell me my duck is dead!"

The vet shrugged. "I'm sorry Miss. If you'd taken my word for it the first time, the bill would have been £30. But with the Lab report and the cat scan, it's now £300. ☺☺

Whooper's Visit Nairn



Our Trust secretary Morag, spotted a flock of Whooper Swans yesterday on the east beach. They probably flew in from Iceland on the favourable migratory wind direction.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Transformation



At around 7 weeks, our nine river ducklings seem to make a huge overnight transformation - growing almost from ducklings to ducks.


With the colder temperatures and virtually no insect life around, they are eating  courtesy of the Trust, and whatever else they can. Notice the photo below showing some of the ducklings on the right, having a nibble at the Algae growth on the river wall. 


The mother duck is doing a great job, protecting, teaching and escorting.....I hope most of them are female !!  Short movie clip below.

video

Monday, 2 October 2017

Ducklings Doing Well



The last duckling brood are alive and well, growing at a pace and little wings starting to form. Seems like this mother has cracked the secret of having a successful brood by hatching in someone's garden with a pond later in the season. 


This ensures adequate food supply with no competition in a reasonably safe environment.
Once discovered and attacked by predators ( in this case a cat ), the mother took them down to the river where they have been thriving, thanks to the Trust daily supply of food. These ducklings will have learned all the skills of survival from their mum.


Meanwhile on my patch, Limpy and Disco are getting closer and I'm pretty sure next season will see them having young ones together.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Summers End ?



Our Summer has been pretty poor and Autumn is now under way with the leaves turning. My hopes of an Indian Summer are still there for October, but if September is anything to go by !


Have seen very few butterflies this year, but today had a double treat.


With a red Admiral down by the riverside, and a Dragon fly by my garden pond, hope still for an Indian Summer ? 

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Trust Feeding Facts



Viewers might like to know a few facts about the Trust feeding regime on the riverside. Trust membership pays for the feeding and care of the River Nairn water birds. It has been remarked to me often that these must be the best cared for birds in Scotland, I don't argue with that ! 


The Trust Provides approx 3.5 tons of specialised and mixed grain a year to feed around 180 birds. This might seem a lot, but in fact is only around 2 ounces or 56 grams a day per bird.


The quality of the feeding is reflected in the good health and condition of the birds, which we all enjoy seeing on our river. A couple of short clips below, showing Penny and the ducklings feeding today. 

video  

video

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Island Takeover Bid



The two young swans have not given up trying to takeover Penny and Dukes territory. 


Today was their boldest attempt yet, as they flew over a couple of times before landing beside the nesting island.


Penny and Duke were having a nap at the Merryton bridge but soon rallied as the youngsters landed. 



Penny was first to mount the attack followed closely by Duke. The youngsters  were quick to realise that this was going to be no walk over.


Penny knows that Duke is still vulnerable due to his moulting being incomplete he is unable to fly for another week. Swans use their wings as weapons, but when moulting they risk severe injury if the feathers are not mature enough to take a pounding.  Pen swans moult before the Cobs, so Penny was capable of fighting and took the initiative.


The youngsters thought by leaving the water they would be left alone - not so !

Penny and Duke were determined to make them leave the entire territory and the red line is off the end of the pier ! 




Penny escorted them down river but Duke held back knowing she had everything in hand. I suspect one of the youngsters will likely be Penny's offspring. The sequence of shots tells the story.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Defending The Territory



There have been a pair of new swans checking out the estuary in the last couple of days. Penny disappeared for the entire day on Sunday leaving Duke to defend the territory. 


It seems I named him well after John Wayne, for he tackled the two young swans himself when they ventured up to the Merryton bridge.


Pouncing on the back of one, he grabbed it by the back of the neck and paddled at the same speed as it tried to escape. Eventually he let it go and both the youngsters headed back to sea. 


Penny returned yesterday which is the anniversary of Popeye's demise last year. Perhaps she flew off to check on last years brood, she looks stunning in her new plumage.