Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Disco Ducklings !



As anticipated, Disco started hatching her ducklings today. This morning's photos show 4 little beauties around her. 


Still some unfinished business and more to come, watch this space! 

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Egg-citing Times



With only 4 days until Disco hatches her brood, I have been getting a little egg-cited at the prospect of some new season ducklings. 


Unfortunately after taking a photo yesterday I discovered that Disco has accidentally lost an egg outside the nest. 


This could only have happened the previous night as I check the nest every day, so I rushed into the coop and removed the stone cold egg. After candling I could detect no movement, but decided to put it in the incubator on the off chance it might still be alive. As it was due to hatch in a few days It will be a miracle if it survives.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Sparrowhawk Makes a Comeback



The Sparrowhawk I released last week returned to my garden today. 


                            I was glad I put Limpy the disabled drake in the Aviary before going to the shops. On my return, the Sparrowhawk was sitting just outside the Aviary eyeing up Limpy who was kicking up a fuss at the unwelcome guest. 


The Hawk then flew onto the garden bushes and was quite content for me to take a series of photos. I got the impression he remembered me and was unafraid of my presence. 


Sadly I had to chase him off as I will soon have discos ducklings running around the garden, and don't want such a predator paying me visits !

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Penny Takes a Break



With warmer spring conditions finally here, Penny can take a break from the nest. 


Duke has been very attentive to her needs and is on hand to take over when required. 


He is on patrol watching out for any dangers, but quick to react when Penny needs a break. 

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Stunned Sparrowhawk




                     Interesting day, I saw Duke chasing 3 swans away that came up to the Swans island. He had no hesitation in seeing them all off while Penny sat on her nest. Later this afternoon knock at the door and a report that a hawk was laying on the ground outside Barron house. I went to investigate and found a stunned Sparrowhawk sitting on the ground.




Had put on a pair of gloves so picked it up and had a quick look. No apparent injuries, so either collided with a window or overhead wires. Within 10 minutes it had recovered enough to let it fly off. Also had a report last night that a Mother duck had been run over and killed in front of Grants Garage, apparently escorting ducklings across the road. I spent half an hour with a friend looking for ducklings this morning without success. I am trying to verify that there was indeed ducklings involved. If anyone can verify , please get in touch.
They would not survive long without their Mother in this cold weather.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Duke At His Best




Compared to last year, Duke is a different bird, he is strong , healthy and dominant. 



His attention has been fully focused on mating, looking after Penny and his domain. 



Guarding the nest site is now his immediate priority, even keeping the ducks at bay keeps him in fine fettle, ready to tackle any threat.


Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Nesting




                     In spite of the extended winter weather, many birds are now nesting. 



Penny and Duke have been busy nest building and now in the process of egg laying. 



We badly need some warmth to get everything growing before hatching time arrives. 



Disco has a privileged position at the Trust sanctuary, and continues to incubate her large clutch.
These are due to hatch in about 3 weeks time.  

Friday, 30 March 2018

GOOD FRIDAY


Love is in the air for Penny and Duke on this Good Friday. 


What a lovely surprise to see them getting close and ultimately mating. 


This is quite a change from last year when Duke was weak and ill. 



Today all systems were go and he was synchronising the rituals, and behaving much like Popeye did in the past.


After mating at high tide, he proceeded to the nest and dutifully guarded it.



All the signs are pointing to a normal nesting season, fingers crossed we get some cygnets this year.  

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Easter Eggs



Disco the disabled duck has finally begun to incubate her eggs .....all 16 of them !!!!


Had the chance to inspect the nest when she came off briefly for a wash and bite to eat this morning.
She is quite a Madam and enjoying life to the full, all being well we should see some ducklings in a months time.
She will rear them in as natural a state as possible until they are safe enough to be transferred to the river when about 9 weeks old.


The six she had last season were successfully integrated into the river population at that age.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Little Egret



Keen walker and Trust Member George Berryman, captured a couple of nice shots out by the Ministers Loch today.


The little Egret has made the area it's home over the past couple of years.
These birds are fairly rare in Northern areas, this could be the result of climate change. George said it was a graceful mover.

Friday, 23 March 2018

DOG DANGER !




Today I found one of our Mallard Drakes dead beside the Merryton bridge. By all accounts it seems to have been a dog attack with paw prints around the carcase.




The nesting season is now underway and it is common for ducks and drakes to be scouting the riverbank for possible nesting sites. The Drakes hang around the area and are sometimes slow to move particularly if they are under a tree and unable to take off easily, this one was under a tree.

I have consistently asked some dog owners to keep their dogs under close control, especially at this time of year through until July at least. The Scottish outdoor access code stipulates this advice.



Some people are determined to ignore this advice and will be reported to the Dog warden and the Police if spotted by Trust members. 



One such woman consistently allows her dog to chase the birds, in spite being asked time and again not to allow it to do so. The River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust exists to protect the river birds. The vast majority of dog owners are no problem, but some couldn't care less about other species. Fifty per cent of Scottish birds are ground nesting and will not leave their nest when sitting on eggs, even when the threat to them can be fatal.
The Trust only asks that dog owners keep a wary eye on their dogs, and keep them close by in an area where wildlife abounds. 

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Disco Still Laying



Disco the disabled duck is still laying eggs and I see a total of 10 so far. She has had a few hiccups along the way, and laid a very small egg about quarter the normal size last week !


Having spoken to a friend who told me that she was probably lacking calcium, I supplied her with some crushed Cuttle fish shells. She was gobbling them down like there was no tomorrow, and this put her back on track for a full clutch.


She has not started sitting yet, so looks like she is going for the dozen !


Meanwhile Penny and Duke are still waiting on spring weather, but I fear winter is not over yet !

Monday, 19 March 2018

Sunny Respite



After what seems to have been weeks of bitter Siberian easterly winds, we finally get a welcome Sunny respite.

The river birds are frisky and Penny and Duke I'm told were mating yesterday, this is good news as the run up to nesting time is not far away. We have a spring tide at the end of the month, and I expect them to start nest building then.

Trust members and regular River and beach walkers Mr and Mrs Nicol, brought me another Guillemot found on the beach. In spite of my best efforts it died after expelling the same foul smelling inky black fluid as the previous rescued Guillemot. There have been several deaths of these sea birds over the past few weeks.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Back With The Tide



Our Resident Swans Penny and Duke have returned to the River after 15 days away. Have no Idea where they were, but both look in excellent condition.


Penny normally starts nest building around the end of this month, but with such a prolonged winter this might be delayed - unless we get a dramatic improvement in the weather !


They have settled straight back into their normal routine, chilling out close to their island, nice to see them back😀.