Saturday, 4 April 2020

A Swan Named Sue



                        It has become increasingly clear to me that our new generation Pen, is one of Penny and Popeye's offspring of 2016. 


That was the last brood hatched by our magnificent pair who dominated the riverside since 2008. 


Penny and Popeye reared 9 generations until 2016 when sadly he died. The new Pen " Sue "will be 4 years old this May, making it the optimum time for her to start mating and nesting as a first time adult. Penny and Duke only had one brood in 2018, and this would make any of that brood too young and immature to be nesting this year.
Looks like Penny knew her daughter was waiting just offshore, and has ceded the territory without any need for a fight, this would explain the easy takeover.


We can only hope that "Sue "and "Slim" turn out as good as Penny and Popeye at rearing cygnets, she has all the hallmarks of Penny. Photo's are of the 2016 brood, and one of those cygnets is Sue !

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Nairn Swans - New Generation ?




The young Swans that have been scouting around the lower River over the past few weeks appear to have moved in. 



Unchallenged by Penny and Duke who have now been gone for ever 3 weeks, the new generation are growing more confident by the day.  



Penny and Duke could still return, and the young ones are unlikely to match their power. However it may be that Penny and Duke have retired from cygnet rearing and have joined a flock.



Penny is 18 years old now, and perhaps close to the end of her egg laying fertility. It is still early enough in the season for them to return and nest again, but the young ones are likely to have a go themselves soon.
I got the impression that the young Pen, was one of Penny's offspring as she was in the lead throughout my observations, she seemed to know the river, even in low water conditions and was the prime mover searching out river weed.


The Cob has a long slim neck, and a suitable name of "Slim" might be appropriate. In recognition of her great work  saving dozens of Swans over the years, I think calling the Pen "Sue "after our avian adviser would be nice.
They are probably around 3 years old and about to nest for the first time - it remains to be seen if they are the new generation of Nairn Swans !

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Coronavirus - The upside of Annus Horribilis

I think this year can truly be described as Annus Horribilis globally.  Interestingly, during a conversation about a month or so before the Coronavirus emerged in Wuhan. I was discussing the effects of climate change, and the disaster that the human race was inflicting on the Planet by our lack of action on the matter.  During the conversation I said "we ( the human race) were determined to wipe ourselves out one way or another, and that nature will probably produce a virus or bug that we we'll have no defence against, most likely from China that will go round the globe like a dose of salts."  That predication has come pretty damn close and given me pause for deep thought !
There is another parallel that has since emerged, in so far as expert opinion predicted that around 40 million people would be effected badly by climate change due to rising sea levels etc. Some experts are predicting that 40 million could be killed by the coronavirus now !
There could be a silver lining and huge upside to this Annus horribilis, if we desire to see and act upon it .
What I find positive is the global human response to the threat of a disease, that potentially could mutate and wipe us out. The astronomical sums of money in the billions and trillions, being used to fight this threat to our survival. This is proof positive, that if taken seriously, any global threat recognised by the powers that be, could be tackled with money and change of lifestyle no object !
I did a posting back in January on how to tackle Climate change  The current crisis adds weight to my argument, as we have shown that global crisis can be tackled. The politicians have asked us all to behave in a certain way to beat this virus, in our billions we have collectively complied with their requests. Is it too much to ask that they in turn listen to the science and experts on tackling climate change ?  The sight of thousands of animals being burned to death in Australia was haunting, it is reckoned that a billion died during the bushfires. 



Just take a look at the before and after photo's of Kangaroo Island Australia - shocking ! 
Surely the lengths we go to save human life, should be extended to the life of the Planet and all the species on it ?
I think this current crisis will point out to many, that much of what we do and rely on is not a priority. The upside and bonus right now is cleaner air due to less pollution from transport of every kind, be it planes, trains, or buses and cars. The effect has been instantly noticeable and literally a breath of fresh air. The poorer countries have to be shielded from this virus as well, for it knows no bounds and will continue to threaten us all unless we do. I hope we learn from this pandemic, and finally start to do what's right for the entire Planet.






Finally, on a personal and positive note, after 18 days treatment, the badly injured pigeon has recovered enough to manage out of it's box on my kitchen floor,,.



where there's life there's hope ! 

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Life Goes On....For Some.



The ability to breathe is pretty much taken for granted, it comes naturally. It's only when this is compromised and we are laid low, that the proper functioning of the lungs hits home. Having had a serious bout of lung disease 5 years ago, I can appreciate how awful the Coronavirus must be, once it gets into your Lungs. Fortunately I was lucky enough to survive my Hospital stay, and  cant praise the NHS Doctors and staff enough for their skill and treatment I received. I only hope they are properly equipped to tackle the impending crisis which will surely task them. My Best wishes to you all !


Away from our species, for some others life goes on - virus or no. For all species food and shelter is required for survival.


Our Mallard ducks on the river are no exception, and with nesting season coming, it is essential to eat.


Meanwhile Disco and her mate at home, give me something to observe during this semi lockdown. 

Friday, 20 March 2020

Pigeons Progress



It's ten days since the Sparrowhawk attack on the pigeon. Have been treating it daily, with anti bacterial cream. I can report progress, but the injury is severe, deep, and has exposed tendons and sinews vital to the wing flight mechanism. Basically the hawk has eaten all the  skin and flesh that covered them.



Must be a horrible experience being painfully eaten alive !!
However, the pigeon is eating well and has an obsessive liking for black sunflower seeds, must be getting something really helpful to it.





Looking good and not even attempted to fly out of the box, so will give it all the time it needs to fully recover...if ever !

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Young Swans Recon



With the absence of Penny and Duke since the 8th of this month, a young pair of swans have had a scouting recon to the nesting island today. I suspect one of them is Penny's offspring as it explored the nest site. 



Both of them kept a wary eye on me, and  eventually took off. 


Penny and Duke will lose the site if they don't get back soon, there will be a right Royal battle to expel them. Settled weather and increasing tides might bring them back shortly.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Viral Shopping Madness

As one of the apparent at risk vulnerable people to be "shielded " from the Covid -19 virus. I thought I better get out to the shop and get some bread and a few groceries, only to find that the shelves were cleared of fresh meat, bread, and toilet rolls etc !  So much for shielding the over 70s !
I reflected back on my childhood, and remembered the 10 years after WW2. Rationing was still in force, and I recall being sent down to the shop with the rationing book to get some cheese or tea and sugar essentials. It might interest readers to note that the weekly rations for an adult were : 

3 pints of milk
Meat - 2 chops or equivalent
1 egg or 1 packet of dried eggs every 2 months
3-4 oz cheese
4 oz bacon and ham
2 oz tea
8 oz sugar
2 oz butter
2 oz cooking fat

I daresay most adults now, eat that in 2 days. There is no rationing now, and yet people are out clearing the shelves...which shows you why governments impose things like rationing ! 
I wish people would get a grip, and realise this thing is going to be around for a very long time, and get back to normal shopping habits !  This is a war on a Virus - not on the over 70s !

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Dog and Hawk Attacks

Penny and Duke were attacked by a dog last Saturday afternoon. 


Apparently it was a spaniel called "Fergie " and the woman owner was unable to recall the dog. Penny and Duke have since disappeared, hopefully this is not related to the attack, and that they are seeking out green feeding prior to nesting.


 There can be no excuse for Dog owners allowing their pets to attack or chase the river wildlife, and dogs should be kept under close control near wildlife - especially during the nesting season. The Sparrowhawk is also busy, and yesterday caught another pigeon at my front window.



Once again, the same hawk had taken a chunk out of the pigeons left wing before it flew off. Again I have treated it with  an anti inflammatory and anti bacterial cream, we shall see how it fares.

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Disco and Mate


Spring beckons, and the Trust disabled Duck "Disco"  and her mate will soon be mating and nesting.


Meanwhile a little dip in a fresh pond keeps them happy. 


What we need are temperatures a little warmer, still a little too chilly ! 

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Surfin



Sunshine at last ! After weeks of wet and windy weather we are blessed with a bit of sunshine and a feeling that spring is on the way.




The birds are showing all the signs of spring and nesting time around the corner. 



Penny and Duke having an excursion to the beach, another sign that spring is on the way. I noticed a small group of Wigeon visitors surfing happily close to the Pier,

Friday, 28 February 2020

Pigeon Swims to Safety

UPDATE: Sadly Pigeon died this afternoon.
Returning home yesterday I was greeted by a life and death struggle between a Pigeon and a Sparrowhawk in my garden. 



The Hawk tried to fly off with the struggling pigeon and both fell into the garden pond. 



The pond had a thin layer of ice unable to support the weight of the birds and the pigeon fell through into the freezing water as the Sparrowhawk took off ! The poor pigeon was torn and bleeding and desperately flapping/swimming to the edge of the pond, where I managed to pick it up.  Was amazed at the breast stroke action of the wings taking it through the ice.   



Drying it off and wrapped in a warm towel I checked the injuries, It seemed I arrived just in time to avoid the worst, it had been stripped of many feathers prior to being eaten, and the only torn skin was just inside the wing chest area.



Have given it anti inflammatory and anti bacterial cream on the torn skin, it's now recovering in warm box in the kitchen. What a swim to safety !
Incredibly this is the second time I have seen a Sparrowhawk fall into the water with a pigeon, once before on the riverside. https://simplysuperbswans.blogspot.com/search?q=sparrowhawk+drowns+pigeon

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Tree Removal



Twice in the past week, the Trust has contacted Scottish Water to report the Trees hung up on the Merryton Bridge. We keep a close watch on the tidal reaches of the river, and do our best to protect the wildlife and environment. 


The trees were more of a threat to the bridge if allowed to pile up with every spate. The bridge is the responsibility of Scottish water, and I'm happy to say they acted promptly to dispose of the trees.


                    I disposed of one stuck on the Swans Island - watched closely by Penny and Duke !

Saturday, 22 February 2020

More Wind, More Trees !



                       Incessant Winds and rain showers, are keeping the River high, with more blown trees getting hung up on the Merryton Bridge.  


Hopefully the spring tides over the coming week will shift them.


Penny and Duke are keeping their heads down in the lee of the Swans island. Roll on Spring !

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Storm Dennis



We seemed to have escaped the worst of Storm Dennis, but the high winds left their mark. 


Today the water has receded and left a large tree stuck under the Merryton bridge. Must be 40 feet at least, and unlikely to move in it's current position. 


This will have scoured and changed the river bed on the way down, and will probably need cut with a chain saw and removed.


Meanwhile Penny and Duke are seeking out quiet eddies, but looking good . 

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Signs of Things to Come ?




Storm Ciara sweeps across the country, but so far we have missed the worst of it.


However, more winter gales are forecast for the coming days.


High Tides this week are boosted by deep low pressure pushing the sea ever higher. The river is on flood alert, and already topped near the harbour. 



Spring Tides during the winter months, occasionally put the river over the edge. With Climate change and melting polar regions, could this become the norm for Nairn ?