Friday, 21 July 2017

Fly Catchers

Impossible to photograph ducklings catching flies with my camera, so have taken short movie clip showing just how fast they are.


Monday, 17 July 2017

Fly Catching Ducklings

This evening I spotted a new brood of 11 ducklings. The wind had dropped and the heat was lovely, a real summers evening. 
Just the conditions that are ideal for newly hatched ducklings, plenty of insects within reach from over hanging vegetation.

  The ducklings were having a great time jumping up for the midges and other small flies, a joy to watch.

This new brood could be ideal for the re- introduction of the weak duckling I took home a couple of days ago. 

                                        I have been feeding it up, and with the warmer conditions it is now a lot stronger and more active. 
I have not seen the mother with 6 siblings, unless she has stolen or integrated another brood and this 11 are it. Given the chance tomorrow, I will put this little one back while conditions are right.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Weak Duckling Rescue

Yesterday I was contacted by Shona who lives in the same street, she said there was a duck with 8 ducklings in the high street. When we got there, the Mother duck was frantic as she was surrounded by onlookers and the ducklings were behind large Iron gates. After asking the people to move away and allow the duckling to rejoin the mother they got together and we escorted them down to the riverside.
Today I saw the mother with only 6 ducklings but shortly after, another weak duckling turned up making a total of seven. 

This little one was struggling and unable to keep up with the mother and siblings, eventually being blown down river by the strong wind and the mother and siblings carried on up river. The Gulls and crows were waiting, so had no choice but to bring it home and put it in the incubator to warm up. I will keep it a day or two until it starts to eat and gets stronger , then I can return it to the family.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Lucky Escape

Yesterday one of our largest ducklings was attacked and badly injured. 

After taking some photos and seeing them on the computer it was obvious that the duckling needed some urgent attention. 

This morning I managed to catch it and give it the medication needed. 

Painkiller, antibiotics, and anti bacterial cream.
It is now resting beside the duckling with the broken leg. 

All being well I may be able to return it to the mother and one sibling in a few days. It's had a lucky escape.  

Was sent a photo of possible culprit for the attack. 

This photo was taken by one of our trust members this morning - a day after the attack. It clearly shows a black back gull grabbing a duck by the neck, pretty well same area as the duckling above.
The duck was seen to escape, at least temporarily. 
Again a timely reminder for people to avoid feeding gulls -  the results can be deadly for the ducks !

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Dislocated Duck Brood

The Duck with the dislocated wing is doing a great job caring for her brood of 6. She has just recently shed her main flight feathers but is ever watchful for predators.

One of her brood is only half the size of the others and has to make sure it gets it's share of the food by getting literally stuck in there !
Meanwhile the duckling with the broken leg is getting on with life in the bathtub, after only 11 days care it's doing well.


Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Library Display

Being exactly 10 years since the creation of the Swans nesting island, the Trust has put on an anniversary display of some photos showing our River swans and wildlife over the years. Some of these are displayed for the first time. Our thanks to Morag Paterson our Trust secretary for setting it out. 

Monday, 10 July 2017

Coastal Predators

There's only one thing more scary than a great Black Back Gull to ducks on the river ...that's Two Black backed gulls !  During the last few days we have lost some ducklings and young ducks, would not be surprised if it was the Black back. One of our trust Members saw a black back with a young duck which escaped after he clapped his hands to scare it off. 

The great Black back is a powerful predator and capable of taking fully grown ducks and rabbits. I witnessed a black back in 2010 taking a fully grown female duck. See above Photos!

 Last week I saw a pair of them feeding on a what looked like a sea trout on the riverside.

Even half dozen Hoodie crows are no match for the Great black back.  The comparative size to a common herring gull can clearly be seen here.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Duckling Hydrotherapy

This time last week one of the river ducklings was bitten by an adult and got a badly broken leg. I was reluctant to have it put to sleep and bandaged the leg close to the body - as the break was there and not possible to splint. I gave it some anti inflammatory pain relief every day, along with some calcium powder.The duckling is only 3 weeks old and am hoping that even if it ends up with a gammy leg, that it will compensate and be able to live with the disability.

Having removed the bandage I was keen to see how well it had healed and give it some hydrotherapy at the same time. I was delighted to see that it has partial use of the leg after only 7 days.

Young birds grow rapidly and heal much quicker than other species. It's early days, but I hope through time it will get enough use from the leg that it can safely return to it's siblings in the river.

Otherwise it may end up as a mate for the duck with the broken wing ! Short movie clip below of the hydrotherapy bath this morning.


Thursday, 6 July 2017

Chilling Out

Penny and Duke have settled down to a quiet summer with no cygnets. Penny deserves a break after 10 years constant production. Both of them are looking good, but moulting time will start this month for Penny at least.

Meanwhile the mother with 9 ducklings is no longer able to keep them all under cover, just as well it's mid summer.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Duckling Reunited


Finally was able to reunite the smallest duckling with it's Mother and siblings this morning. They were still together this evening, so am hoping it will survive. The other duckling with a badly broken leg is under my care for the moment. After a visit to the Vet I was given no hope, but I insisted on giving it a chance.

broken leg

The break was bandaged up by the Vet but came off an hour after returning home. So I had to redo the bandage in a more secure fashion. Fingers crossed it will mend well enough to be functional and survive. I had a duckling in 2013 with a badly broken leg which healed up and it survived, so I'm an eternal optimist when it comes to birds ability to heal themselves.  See photos below.

Monday, 3 July 2017

More Duckling Woe

Yet another casualty this evening when a duckling was bitten by an adult mother duck. The duckling appears to have a broken leg and was in distress limping onto the shingle but unable to walk. I brought it home and phoned the vets, but cant be seen until the morning. Meanwhile I have stabilised the leg and given it an anti inflammatory to reduce the pain. 

It now shares the brooder with the small weak duckling which I will attempt to return to it's mother in the morning.

Ironically this was the same mother that broke the other ducklings leg this evening!  It's a tough world out there ! 

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Successful Release Compromised - Litter-ally

Having meticulously planned the release of the 3 rescued ducklings for this morning, all  seemed in order with favourable weather conditions and the mother duck conveniently in the moat with her other 3 surviving ducklings. I carefully and gently coaxed her across the Moat with some floating dried Mealworm which the ducklings love, and kept them busy. This was what I had planned for and carefully took the 3 ducklings from my bag and placed them in the water just 6 feet from the mother and siblings, Eureka, the rescued ducklings joined the brood and I was elated.

                       I continued to feed all of them with crushed Mealworm when the alarm call went up from several adult ducks, and within seconds all the ducks in the Moat took flight and scattered including the newly released ducklings.
When I looked to see what had spooked them, I found a man with a large polythene bag down by the moat, this was the source of the alarm and panic. It transpired the man was part of the sailing club annual litter picking exercise on the beach and river. I could hardly believe what had just happened, for then saw one of the released ducklings on it's own in the water, trying desperately to find the rest of the brood which had taken to the tall grass on the island.

It was unable to get out of the moat and the mother and siblings were nowhere to be seen. Once again I had no choice but to cross the moat and retrieve the shivering duckling, dry it off and transport it back home to the brooder and lamp.

While I applaud anyone picking up litter, it would have been better if the sailing club had informed me of their timing to do it at this most sensitive part of the riverside. The reason is simply that many birds are still nesting in this area and should not be disturbed, and there's always the chance that a nest could be stepped on. What was a textbook release turned into another time consuming drama for me, because of lack of cooperation.
I spend at least 30 hours a week caring for the river birds all the year round. Over the course of the year I remove dozens of bags of litter from the riverside, but not when it's going to interfere with the nesting. In addition, I think the sailing club instead of seeking publicity with a once a year litter pick, would do better to keep the harbour basin permanently clean which is usually swimming with litter, week in week out all the year round. I used to do it from time to time years ago because it annoyed me so much. Eventually stopping when I realised the council and harbour users weren't bothered about it.

Friday, 30 June 2017

River Rescue

After 24 hours rain, the River was again in spate for the second time this month. Although not as severe, it was more than enough to wash all the waterbirds down to the Island haven. The last duckling brood to hatch a few days ago was the one to suffer the worst losses. The fast flow is deadly to tiny ducklings if they are caught out. I found one dead and another two separated from their mother, exhausted and unable to climb up the bank to safety. 

                        I managed to scoop one up from the edge of the moat, and waded over to the other side to find the other this morning. I brought them home to the brooding box under a lamp, within half an hour they had revived and started to eat. Later this afternoon I went down again to find another exhausted one very weak and unable to climb out of the water.

Same procedure back to the brooder and under the lamp, happily it also revived after an hour or so. I will try to reunite them with their mother if the river drops enough tomorrow . This would mean she would still have 7 out of the twelve she had 3 days ago.   It's all down to luck as to their life chances, hatched just before a flood often spells disaster, even for ducks !

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Two New Broods

We may have missed out on Cygnets this year, but the duckling broods are certainly making up for it ! 

Today I can report seeing two more new broods of 12 and 6, and I expect even more to follow. Currently we have 33 tiny ducklings on the lower river and 20 grown ones nearly 9 weeks old. 

With the heavy summer growth, it's shaping up to be a bumper year for the Mallards. Many of these know me from previous years and view me not only as a food source, but as a trusted ally who will keep the drakes away.

Have to watch where I put my feet as some of the ducklings have a tendency to stand on my Wellie's.  The mothers are happy to form a crèche and leave one in charge whilst feeding !  Short movie clip below, of experienced mother with ducklings helped into the river a week ago.