Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Angel Wing Cygnet


Yesterday I received an email for advice on a cygnet with Angel wing. Clare Kendall on the Kennet and Avon canal was concerned about a family of Swans that she has observed since hatching, and found my Blog post on Angel wing while doing an internet search.

Clare emailed the enclosed photo's showing the cygnet with both wings badly affected. Angel wing is a condition that might genetically appear every few generations, or as a result of poor diet and too much protein. Clare says that tourists are forever feeding them white bread and other rubbish and thinks this might be the cause. Angel wing starts by rapid growth of the wings, when the bone structure is not yet strong enough to support the weight of the new feather growth which is heavy with blood . The wing feathers then start to fall outwards and end up growing out from the body rather than correctly folded onto the back.

This has a devastating effect because the bird will never be able to fly and is banished from the family unit, and sometimes killed by the parents when they try to drive it away when fledged. The condition is easily corrected by bandaging the wing into the correct position for a week or so, and giving it a green diet, but has to be done early enough to succeed. This case is quite advanced and might not be fixable. I have passed information onto Clare, and Sue our Avian adviser who might be able to help.

BELOW: I successfully treated "Lefty" one of our cygnets a few years back at an earlier stage, 



it was the only cygnet case of potential Angel wing I have known in the last 11 years on our river. 

Friday, 31 July 2015

In Good Order


The last Day of July and still waiting on Summer !  This has been the poorest summer weather I can ever remember - surely we will see some blue skies before the clocks change !! 

With cold nights the river birds have been keen for their food and acting as though autumn has arrived.

The cygnets are growing fast, and now look like young swans, wing development is now the final part of the growing process, ready for flying lessons in September.


The rescued ducklings are also in good order and enjoying the luxury of a cosy coop during the chilly nights.



Blondie is growing her new flight feathers and still has her 4 remaining brood after losing the white duckling and 4 others to the predators.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

New Brood

What has been one of the few lovely Summer days, also turned up a new duck brood on the river.

A mother with 4 advanced ducklings about 7 weeks old. This is great to see since she is only the second mother who has managed to save some of her brood on the river by herself. I really admire ducks, with so much of the odds stacked against them they do their best. Just a week ago I witnessed a mother duck with her last two ducklings being attacked by a great black back gull, she grabbed hold of the black back after it swallowed one of her ducklings and tried to grab the other one. 

This was real bravery, because the black back is a powerful top predator of ducks. Right now all the ducks are moulting and this takes about 3 weeks, until they grow their new flight feathers  - they are literally sitting ducks !

Meanwhile the Douglas street brood of 7 are being well looked after by Mum, although confined to the garage her behaviour is as it would be on the river.

She is doing a great job, and how cute it is keeping them warm !!

The Beauty Of Birds


Some shots I took earlier this year of other beautiful but common birds. The song Thrush - not as common as it used to be.

Then this Starling who likes to nest in the cooker hood vent of one of the harbour street houses, and 2 Swallows gathering nesting material



Friday, 24 July 2015

Cool Pigeons


Still one of my favourite birds, in spite of them being common, I like their laid back attitude and friendly disposition - 

Pigeons are cool !


Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Off Topic

UPDATE: Sadly the Rabbit died at 2.30 am.
Two local girls Lucy and Ruth, have brought me an injured baby Rabbit asking for the Scottish SPCA phone number. Being late and the Rabbit in such a poorly condition, I suggested that I give it some immediate treatment and will either get it to a vet or the SPCA tomorrow. It has an open wound on the back leg with a cluster of maggot eggs throughout the leg fur. I phoned Sue our Trust Avian adviser who also treats small animals, and coincidentally has 3 baby rabbits in care right now. She advised a course of antibiotics, and rehydration with water and honey, then cleaning the wound with TCP and removing the maggot eggs with an old toothbrush. Having done all that, I can only hope it survives until tomorrow.   The Scottish SPCA number for anyone needing it, is 03000 999 999

Right Up My Street


Being in the right place at the right time is great when the special occasion arises. Today my neighbour Jim Mullen could not have been better placed to see a Mother duck and her brood of 7 ducklings walking up Douglas street. Jim had a double take, then the good sense to usher her into my garden just as I returned from the riverside, then gave me a hand to guide them into the garage and coop. She must have already crossed the busy Main road to walk up Douglas street and was heading for the river.

With predation being the worst I have ever known, keeping this lot safe for a while before release seems prudent.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Getting Stuck In


The Cygnets are growing rapidly and love getting stuck in to the supplementary wheat and poultry pellets.





The Glebe road rescued ducklings are now 2 weeks old, I will have to keep them another 6 weeks since the predators are likely to have them if released before that time. 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Feelings - Even Ducks Have Them.


Yet more laments - the beautiful white duck is gone ! 

After only 4 days Blondie has lost 4 of her ducklings to the black backed gull. This is in addition to her sister who also lost her only duckling yesterday, it has been a heartbreaking week for me, after all the care and nurture of the past 8 weeks. 
The lament is also for the mother who lost her only duckling yesterday, she is still looking and calling for it today, how sad is that ? (short video below).  
video

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Killed Within Hours


After only 5 hours in the River , The newly released duckling has been killed by a black backed gull and crows. It is hard for me to take, having nurtured this duckling for 7 weeks and only putting it in the river hours ago.

It was almost fully grown, so it gives you an idea of what little chance ducklings have, faced with these kind of predators.

Blondies Sister Release


The rescued Thurlow Road duck and her duckling were successfully released today, after 7 weeks in care. 

The Mother is the sister of the other blond duck released with her brood last Saturday, all have integrated well, including the white duckling 

- although Penny has chased it a few times.


Sunday, 12 July 2015

G' Day John And Family


On behalf of the River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust, I would like to wish John Barber and his Wife and Family all the best from Scotland. John is Australian but lived for the last 15 years in Nairn, he is a member of the Trust and has been a great supporter over the years. He was one of the first people who gave support when I first had the Swans Island constructed in 2007, it was greatly appreciated.  John and his good wife have just returned to Australia for good, and I for one will miss meeting him on the riverside. John was very much involved in the local community and was Treasurer of the Nairn Ceilidh Group for a while, he even had a bigger beard than me ! Anyway John, I sincerely hope you have a great retirement and "lang may yer lum reek !" 

From the grateful white Swans of the northern hemisphere, to the black ones down under, all the best.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Back To The Wild


After 7 weeks in the safety of the Aviary, the Harbour street rescued brood is now back in the wild. 

With the help of Trust member George Stephen we released them near the Merryton bridge.

Blondie the mother duck took them safely downstream and kept them at a safe distance from the other ducks until they get used to the river.

It was a successful release, and at least 5 of the 9 ducklings are females which helps with  the numbers.

 They should be capable of flight within a week, so hopefully they will be OK.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Depressing

Once again the weather takes a downturn, lets hope it's short. Today I saw a new duckling brood of 7 on the river this morning, no sign later in the evening. 

The Crows have so far taken all the ducklings from the lower river this season, around 100 that I'm aware of. Today I watched a hoodie Crow glide down beside a sitting duck , making her move because it thought she had some ducklings underneath her- these predators are getting totally out of hand ! 

Yesterday the mother with two remaining ducklings lost one to a black backed gull whom she tried desperately to stop, and by the evening she had lost the last one, like the weather it is truly depressing. Ducks have a really hard time trying to save their young from so many predators.

By contrast the Swans are doing well, and the Cygnets are thriving. 

Penny is moulting and has lost her flight feathers - she will be flightless for another 5 weeks, but Popeye retains his to defend the cygnets until Penny is back in the air.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Another Glebe Road Rescue


Once again a Nairn Resident comes to the rescue and informed me that they had a Mother duck with 4 surviving ducklings in their garden.
Glebe Road seems to be a favoured nesting spot for the ducks, it does back onto Viewfield with many shrub filled gardens, quiet safe, and ideal for hiding a nest.

Young Ellen Gardner was a big help while trying to capture the Mother duck and her brood, trying not to spook the Mother so much that she would fly off and leave her babies. We managed after some near misses to get all the family, then back to the coop for warmth, food and water. Ellen said that the gulls and crows had already taken some of the brood, which is not surprising since all the ones hatched on the lower river have been taken with no survivors.

As it happens I will be releasing the rescued Blondie harbour street duck and her brood of 9 later this week, this will allow me the room to keep this new brood for a few weeks to give them a chance of survival.