Monday, 24 April 2017


What a difference a day makes, yesterday I was admiring the tree blossom and Wood pigeon on the fence.

Today battling a fierce Arctic wind and watching Penny in the driving sleet, which had subsided by the evening, wind had briefly changed direction too.

Arctic Blast

As I feared, winter hitting us now just as the first ducklings are due to hatch. Today was horrendous with an Icy Arctic blast blowing from the North straight up the riverside, sleet that was horizontal and wind chill that numbed the hands in minutes ! 

Watching Penny on the nest with no cover from the gale force winds and sleet, I marvelled at her ability to keep the clutch warm in such atrocious conditions. Having not seen her off the nest or eat for 4 days, I ventured over and gave her a sodden wholemeal roll, broken up into small enough pieces to eat on the nest.
This I rarely do and only in exceptional circumstances - today was one of those times. Within minutes my hands were frozen and I struggled  to get my gloves back on. Getting the occasional snow shower in April is not unusual, but the gale force wind straight from the north pole was something else, it was bitter !! Could not get photo since hands were too numb to get the camera out of case, but similar to conditions in old photo above but with a stronger wind !

Friday, 21 April 2017


The Anniversary Island  Swan Calendars have been going fast and will need another reprint. Typical comment from satisfied buyers " They are Great "  "Photographs are amazing" "Beautiful photographs " "Aww, Just lovely".
I am pleased that my 10 years of photographing the Swans have not only given me great pleasure, but are appreciated by all. 

The purchase of these calendars helps provide for our beautiful river birds, all the proceeds are used for their care and welfare. More details   HERE

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Duck Rehab

Last week a concerned riverside resident brought a female duck with an injured wing to the Trust . It appeared to be broken, but after careful inspection and a trip to the Vet it was discovered to be dislocated. Two pairs of hands were required to relocate and bandage the wing back into place. It is now in rehab with the Trust and hopefully might regain the ability to fly - time will tell.

Sunday, 16 April 2017


Easter is the traditional time for renewal, this could not have been more apt today at the Swans Island.

Penny and Duke were full of the joys, and had a beautiful mating session to continue the legacy and life of the Swans. 

                        I was privileged to be on hand to record the event as the sequence of shots show.

Penny was the prime mover and Duke was happy to oblige.

                         I was particularly taken when Penny put her neck right across Dukes neck and back indicating she was ready to mate, then putting her wings down into the water to allow him access onto her back.

Finishing with a Swan lake water ballet, all quite wonderful.... A nature lesson for everyone.... Enjoy !

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Predators On The Hunt

Most birds are now nesting and the predators are on the prowl. 
The Crows are highly active and hunting out any nests and eggs they can grab.

Duke is very wary of the crows, and had to race out of the moat when a crow landed on the nest with the intention of getting at the eggs. He is pretty agile and certainly younger than Penny, he was out of the moat and at the nest in a flash. Shortly after, another Crow landed nearby with a stolen ducks egg, and was joined for a meal. Pity the poor ducklings when they start to hatch !

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Duke Improves

After several run - ins with the challengers, Duke seems to have regained his dominant position on the river.

He is conscientious about guarding the nest, and patrolling the river when Penny is on the nest.

Things are looking good for our river residents.

Monday, 10 April 2017


                          I found out why Duke was reluctant to tackle the new challengers the other day. A Trust member witnessed a battle in the morning when Duke was briefly overcome by the Cob. Penny however chased the Pen challenger, and later that night she and Duke turned the tables and chased them both out of the river.
Today I watched, as the Challengers returned again to be chased out of the river.

Penny has taken on the Alpha role and led the attack on the challengers while Duke held back. 

Penny was not content to let them stay at the entrance to the river mouth, and took off to attack and chase them into the sea. This was always what she and Popeye did, and she is trying to teach Duke to do likewise. So far they are hanging on to the territory, and Penny is doing most by forming the nest, laying the eggs and chasing the intruders.

Duke is going to have to improve his performance once all the eggs are laid and Penny starts the incubation, he will have to meet the challengers himself and chase them out. 

They were mating again today and Duke draws strength from Penny, she is a remarkable Swan and deserves the premier nesting spot !  

Sunday, 9 April 2017


Once again Duke and Penny have been challenged for the Premier nesting site on the river. 

Yesterday 2 new Swans flew in and did their utmost to dislodge Penny from her nest and chase Duke away. For some reason Duke was reluctant to fight the male challenger and was driven down river below the bailey bridge, leaving Penny to stand her ground on top of the nest. Eventually Duke flew back up and landed in the moat avoiding the river and the 2 challengers. 

The stand off lasted all day, and when the tide came in last night there was a battle about 10pm. This morning Duke and Penny were mating in the river close to the island with no sign of the challengers. 

After a quick feed from me, they headed off down to the harbour to check that the challengers were gone.

Duke patrolled the harbour entrance while Penny went around the boats to check they were gone! 

When I left, Penny got back onto the nest to repair and make good, while Duke continued to patrol the river.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Moat Maintenance

With Penny and Duke nesting it was time to get some overdue moat maintenance done prior to any cygnets arriving later. 

One of the big spates a few years back, burst out the side and thereby reduced the height of the moat water. This meant newly hatched cygnets getting out of the water and onto the island very difficult, the same could be said for the ducklings too. 

Shovelling and raking stones is not my ideal pastime, but it had to be done without bringing in machinery. Pity my poor arthritic shoulder though !

Penny and the ducks seemed to like the improvement, but Duke was on guard ready for action. 

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Anniversary Island Calendar

This year marks the 10th Anniversary of the Swans nesting Island on the River Nairn. It has been a resounding success and has been used by the Swans from the moment it was created. To mark the 10 years, I have compiled some of my best Swan Photos into a 12 page Calendar, which will be available not only to Trust members but also to the general public. 

This Calendar will make an excellent Christmas gift, or a Memento of Nairn for visitors who enjoy seeing the Swans and cygnets every year. I had a hard job picking the best photos from my extensive collection, but I think they should satisfy everyone's taste. This will be a limited edition for 2018, so if you want one, you can always order through the Donate button. All proceeds will be used for the care and welfare of the River Nairn birds and their environment.

Cost to paid up Trust members will be £5, to other UK residents it will be £9 which includes postage. 
Elsewhere in Europe the cost is £12, post included. USA and Canada £13, post included.
Can be purchased using the Donate button above. 
Buying one will help support the River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust to continue to care for our water birds and their environment. A few pages here to whet your appetite !
NOW ON SALE. at The Nairn Bookshop and Strachans. 

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Duke On Guard

Having been back only a week, Duke is thriving and getting on well with Penny. He has taken on the full mantle of responsibility for the territory and the island nesting site.

It is obvious to me he has done this many times before, knows exactly what his duties are and what to do. The spring weather is suiting all the birds right now and most of them have already started nesting. I think we might see a lot of hatched ducklings by the end of April.

Penny will be at least 15 this year, possibly 16, so maybe her egg laying capacity will be reduced, we will see.