Sunday, 31 May 2015
Was flagged down by a local resident this afternoon and told about a light coloured mother duck and one duckling in Thurlow road. This light coloured duck is one of three rescued last year and the sister of the one rescued last week in Harbour street. I had no choice but to investigate and was lucky enough to find a resident who saw the duck and duckling in her garden, apparently it had 4 ducklings earlier but the Crows were picking them off. The mother was sitting in a driveway with one solitary duckling underneath her. I managed to get her into a corner and caught both her and the duckling.
She is now beside her sister in the garage coop, she will share the Aviary for a month before I put them back in the river. Seems like we have 2 sisters, one who preferred Fishertown and one who preferred the west end !
Saturday, 30 May 2015
The miserable May weather continues unabated, if it wasn't for the delight of the ducklings I think I would be really depressed about it.
With the delight comes the danger, for the Mother as well as the ducklings. Feisty has been pounced on by many of the spare drakes on the river, desperate to mate with any female duck that appears.
The spring like weather conditions - more like March than May seems to have prolonged the urge to mate. Feisty is in hiding and her newly released ducklings are left on their own, fortunately sticking close together and so far avoiding being taken by predators.
The rescued Harbour street ducklings are now a week old but sadly two of the 11 have died. I found one on the stone floor and the other in the straw, both were wet, they may been stood on by the mother or drowned accidentally in the water tub. Dangers for tiny ducklings are never far away.
Friday, 29 May 2015
At almost 5 weeks old, today I released the feisty mother and her brood of 9 ducklings who were previously trapped behind a riverside wall.
Hopefully they will be too big for the crows now, and the Mother will protect them well. I know she is feisty enough, since she attacked me a couple of times while replacing her straw bedding - she thought I was about to pick up one of her ducklings ! ( Short video below )
Tuesday, 26 May 2015
This is the coldest May I can ever remember and it is serving the predators well. Today another Mother duck turned up on the river with 5 ducklings and I watched as 3 were taken one after another over about 30 minutes by a Crow.
This evening she had lost the last two, I have no problem with predation as long as it continues right to the ultimate predator - us, however I do have a problem with predation stopping at Crows !! It is so depressing to witness this constant slaughter. The cold weather means a distinct lack of insect life, not suitable for young birds.
The cygnets are growing and making full use of the renovated Moat and nest site.
Sunday, 24 May 2015
One of the light coloured ducks rescued last year has come up trumps by hatching 11 little beauties herself.
I knew she was nesting close to harbour street but not the exact position until yesterday.
It turned out she was nesting behind ...wait for it... Hideaway cottage ! It was so apt and well hidden among brambles and nettles ...unfortunately behind a 4 foot wall with no escape route for the hatched ducklings.
After gaining permission from the owners of the Cottage and the Bothy, I planned the rescue with the help of Eddie Lang a local man with a love of nature. After some scratches and tussle we managed to catch both Mum and Ducklings who are now happily safe at the rescue centre. I would like to thank the residents of the Hideaway Cottage and The Bothy in harbour street for their permission and good will, as well as Eddie for a job well done.
One of the Ducklings is pure yellow and will turn white in 6 weeks time, her Mother must be carrying the white Campbell duck gene, just like 3 previous ones a few years back. The Crows would have this duckling in five minutes, so none of these ducklings will be released until safe to do so.
Thursday, 21 May 2015
Once again a Big Thank You from the River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust to Paul Thomson the Manager of Nairn King street Co-op Store, the Staff and Shoppers for more Donations of £207-70.
This brings the Total given by Nairn Shoppers this year to £541-64.
This money is used exclusively for the welfare of the River Nairn Water birds their habitat and environment.
No trustee receives any payment, since all trustees are voluntary contributors.
The Trust spends over £2500 a year on the birds welfare, and the Co-op sum will go a long way to helping with it's commitments.
Right now we are caring for 19 ducklings and a mother duck, as well as feeding and caring for the swans cygnets, and river ducks.
The cygnet that was recently attacked and injured by a crow has made a full recovery, as can be seen here on Mum's back yesterday !
Thank you Nairn King st Co-op Shoppers !
Tuesday, 19 May 2015
One of our Trust members was aghast yesterday at the sight of a dog running amok trying to catch nesting ducks on the river. The woman owner was jogging and did not have the dog under control.
This was close to the Swans island and fortunately the swans where elsewhere, otherwise it could have been a tragedy. There is no excuse for out of control dogs, and the trust will pass details to the dog warden and Police. It is an offence for a dog to be out of control in a public place.
A few years back I met a couple from Rome who were visiting Scotland on holiday.
Luca and Marina were impressed by Scotland and Orkney in particular, they enjoy photographing the wildlife.
Our resident Swans they find most impressive, and have just enjoyed 2 days admiring Popeye, Penny and the Cygnets, something they cant see in Rome ! We have kept in touch over the past few years and they keep an eye on the blog too.
They are bird lovers and have saved many sick and injured birds when living in Rome. Luca and Marina have now decided to migrate to Orkney and I wish them well.
At considerable cost they have brought two birds with them which they could not part with, an African grey Parrot called Karma and a Monk parakeet called Puck which they saved from death a while back. I had the joy of meeting these birds today and could feel the love and bond between Luca, Marina and Karma and Puck.
Karma they have had for 13 years,and it does speak both Italian and some English, more than can be said for my Italian !!
As a matter of interest Luca tells me that Rome is plagued by seagulls - much more than we have here....so stop complaining !
Sunday, 17 May 2015
With Rain in the hills, the river has started to rise catching the Swans out. Trying to return to the harbour the cygnets kept getting washed downstream, so in the end Popeye and Penny had to wait until the tide came in to help them get back up river.
For the first time in 8 years Penny allowed all 7 cygnets to get on her back, her previous record was 6. They were feeling the cold so decided Mum was the best place to get warm ! Sequence of pics tells the story
Friday, 15 May 2015
The seven cygnets are still on the go, and the injured one seems to be fine.
By an amazing stroke of luck I found a dead Crow close to Merryton bridge yesterday. I decided to put it to good use on the swans island as a deterrent, so far it seems to be having the desired effect !
As always, the Swans are drawing a lot of photogenic attention, so here's a selection of mine over the past few days.
Wednesday, 13 May 2015
With the cygnets under constant attack from a particular crow, we almost lost another today, but for Good Samaritans who did not pass by.
Jimmy and Kay Young witnessed Popeye trying to protect the cygnet after the attack, then chasing the crow as it headed to the swans nest again ! This left the cygnet alone at the neck of the moat and open to attack. Jimmy and Kay stepped in and sheltered the cygnet while they sent for my assistance. I was glad they did because the cygnet had an injury to the head that needed medical attention.
Jimmy and Kay were kind enough to run me and the cygnet to Moray coast vets where it was given antibiotics, and the gash on the head sealed with surgical glue.
We then returned to the river where I put the cygnet back to Penny on the nest,
she readily accepted the cygnet but gave me a hiss all the same !
Later this afternoon I got a chance to check the nest since she brought all 7 cygnets into the water, there was one remaining cracked bad egg which I removed.
This was a necessary procedure so that she would not continue to sit on it, thus depriving the cygnets of much needed attention. There was a clutch of 10 originally, but with only seven alive and one bad egg - this means that the crows must have killed two cygnets.
I checked the injured cygnet this afternoon and evening, it seems none the worse for it's ordeal at the hands of the crow, me and the vet ! The cygnet is the one with the dent on the right side of the head . The sequence of Pics tells the story. My thanks to Moray coast vets and Jimmy and Kay for taking some photos of the drama on display.
Tuesday, 12 May 2015
Having killed around 50 ducklings in the river so far, the crows have now also killed a cygnet earlier today! Eye witness accounts told me the crow was jumping around the nest area and eventually made a successful grab for a newly hatched cygnet, killing it at the base of the island.
Penny was still hatching her clutch and could not move, and Popeye the cob was limited with his reach. I am still surprised that the crow got so close to the nest during the hatching. These crows are causing a huge amount of carnage on the riverside, and are becoming ever more skilled as time goes by. Having retrieved the dead cygnet I was surprised by the size and weight, and the crow could not have flown off with it. No wonder tiny ducklings don't stand a chance with these predators.
The River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust will have to see what action we can take to combat this destructive menace.
The swans hatching is still in progress, but the windy weather is very much in the crows favour.
While retrieving the dead cygnet, I took the opportunity of taking a few pics and short video of the nest site below, enjoy !