Sunday, 29 October 2017


A new Chapter has begun in the life of the Nairn swans. As I suspected on my previous post, Penny has returned today with a new partner after a weeks absence.

My observations have proved correct and all is now clear what has actually happened since the Death of Popeye last year. 

Duke is in fact the son of Popeye and Penny. 

How fortunate for Penny that Duke was close to hand after Popeye died, she had a son to keep her company and prevent her losing her island home to another pair of Swans. 

Duke of course was sick a couple of times and had to be rescued, but now back to full health. Penny continued with her life and laid 8 eggs in the spring, but nature decreed that these would be infertile between Mother and son. 

As winter starts, Penny led Duke away to join a flock, as she would have done with any cygnets that might have hatched this year. 

Obviously Penny used the opportunity to seek out a new mate at the same time, and after the last week appears to have succeeded. 

However Duke will need to be persuaded to leave the territory, but Penny will do it gently and gradually as her new mate looks on. 

This is a remarkable tale on the life of a remarkable Swan. Hopefully she will be able to hold onto her new mate and produce another new generation of cygnets next spring. 

He is a handsome fellow and I get the impression that this will be his first mate as an adult, which makes him about 4 years old. 

                   If his markings are anything to go by, I do not think he is related,  Penny seems to have chosen well. 

Unlike Duke he is not accustomed to human contact and is wary, which is no bad thing. 

He is very healthy and slim...which I think might be a good name for him - Slim 

as the last photos show, Interesting times ahead !

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Penny Missing !

Our resident Swan Penny has not been seen since last Sunday. Both she and Duke disappeared after last Sunday evenings feed. However Duke flew in last Wednesday, and has been around ever since...Alone!

This is worrying, most unusual and has never happened before. It leads me to suspect what I have thought on occasions, that Duke is actually directly related to Penny - a Son of several years back. 

This would normally be the season to offload  her cygnet offspring, and since the egg laying was infertile, Duke was in fact the only offspring to offload. As they were both gone for 3 days before Duke returned, it seems likely that Penny has joined a flock somewhere and perhaps trying to find another partner.

The fact is that no truly bonded pair would split up, unless one died or was killed. Penny is in prime condition and still  capable of producing a full compliment of eggs. Although she has never left her River home for any more than 3 days in the past 10 years, this would be the best time to leave and find a mate. 

The territory is safe at this time of year since no Swans will be looking for territory until January. It is exactly a year since she got in tow with Duke so the time is right for Swans to find partners now. If she turns up with a strong male, Duke will most certainly be pushed out. If Penny has retired completely she may just stay with a flock in her old age, but I think she is far from retirement yet. 

The photos are of Duke flying in today against strong blustery  winds.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Words Of Wisdom - Blue Planet 2

This weekend the new Attenborough series Blue Planet 2 will be shown on TV. I have been a life long admirer of David Attenborough's natural world programs, along with millions of others. The dire warnings emanating from him and the Scientists about Climate change and global warming are increasingly being taken seriously. The effects that humans have on the Planet must be taken seriously by all of us. The Photo here is an example of what we are doing to the Blue Planet. This was apparently displayed on Facebook by a woman named Caroline Power. Then published in the Telegraph.

It shows a slick of plastic pollution 5 miles long drifting in the Caribbean sea off the coast of Honduras !  It is made up of styrofoam, Polystyrene containers, plastic forks and spoons , flip flops, cups,bags, bottles and all manner of plastic items - it is horrendous. Sea birds and other creatures are eating some of this, and all of it is generated by humans. Washed down rivers into the Sea. 

I gave a talk last week to Firhall Village Forum, and quoted a couple of sayings from Chief Seattle back in the days when America was being colonised by whites. The buffalo and wildlife were being slaughtered almost to the point of extinction.
    Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught, will we realise that we can not eat money.
 If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to the man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth.

The whites, too, shall pass - perhaps sooner than other tribes. Continue to contaminate your own bed, and you might suffocate in your own waste.
Chief Seattle  Spoken over 200 years ago.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Goosander Catches Flounder

A Goosander fishing in the harbour today, bit off a little more than it could chew ! 

The Harbour having been emptied of Boats for the winter was an ideal fishing ground for the Goosanders to catch flounders on the sandy bottom.

One of a pair caught a fish that was a little on the big side, but spent quite a while softening it up while avoiding it's mate taking it over.

Goosanders are excellent underwater swimmers and fish catchers.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Dad Rejoins Brood of 9

With the last Brood of Nine almost ready to fly, I have noticed a Drake has been tagging along lately.

                        I get the impression that this might be the mate of the mother, and the dad of the brood. 

The mother seems to be taking more time away from the brood recently, in preparation for them fledging I think.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Plumage Perfection

Penny and Duke both look stunning in their new plumage. 

Having no cygnets this year to worry about seems to have done Penny the world of good, 

she and Duke appear very healthy indeed.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Firhall Village Forum

Today I gave a talk to the Firhall Village Forum on the outskirts of Nairn. I had been asked some time ago if I could give a talk on the River Nairn Wildlife, and the water birds in particular. I have never given a talk to an organised audience before and was reluctant to do so. However for the benefit of the Trust and the birds and with some trepidation I agreed. I was warmly received by a couple of dozen residents all retired over 50, as Firhall is a retirement village. 

The talk lasted about an hour and just flew by, unscripted I found it easy to talk about my favourite birds and the relationship I have with them. The Village has a small pond and has a couple of ducks that rear their ducklings every summer. 

These ducklings return to the river and ultimately end up down at the lower river, cared for by the Trust. The Forum Chair and residents were most appreciative, and a collection for the Trust at the close raised £111. On behalf of the trust Thank you,  I am most grateful for the kind words and generous positive response. They have invited me to return some time in the future too, Thank you.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Brief Respite

Today gives us a welcome respite from the poor weather of recent days, positively spring like.

Even the frisky ducks thought so. 

With the river in spate and high tides, the Seal was on the prowl for any late running Salmon. 

While Penny and Duke led a flotilla of ducks upstream - beautiful day on the River !

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Almost Grown

The last nine ducklings are almost fully grown and virtually the size of their Mum.

She has done a wonderful job keeping them together and showing them their river home environment.

All being well they should be ready for flight by the end of the month, wing feathers are developing nicely.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The Summer That Never Was

Today I again had the privilege of being really close to Penny. After knowing her 13 years, I honestly believe she almost considers me as another Swan. She does communicate with me on a daily basis by head nods and grunts. Although I don't know the exact meaning of all the nuances in sounds, I know that some are saying this is good, and please give me more, they are appreciative. 

The ultimate feeling of security in my presence is displayed when she sleeps beside me just feet away, what a privilege !
If you have never seen my short film on a year in the life of the Nairn swans then I think you might enjoy it on Youtube.   Just  cut and paste the above link into your browser. It is a reminder of Penny's 9 year contribution and the Summer that never was on the river, It is made up of stills and video, enjoy !

Monday, 9 October 2017

Autumn Changes

The Angling Season has now ended on the River Nairn, and the riverside birds show the Autumn changes. Flocks of birds can be seen in the air and on the land. 

The Redshanks are again frequenting the riverside, 

and the Little grebe continues fishing undisturbed.