Sunday, 16 May 2021

Cygnets Hatch - First Glimpse



 Today as Expected,  Slim and Sue's cygnets have hatched, so far we have 7, but there is still a chance of more as Sue continues to sit. 



My special rapport with Slim and Sue, allowed me the privilege of fairly close contact with the happy event. 



The weather thankfully was benign, and even the relentless North wind dropped for the day. 



The Trust forward thinking by providing the moat height and Ramp for the transit of the cygnets proved their worth.



 Sue led the first born up the Turf from the moat. This is a good example of how to interfere with nature in the best possible way, by providing a ramp. 



Can I remind people NOT to throw bread to them as they are too young to consume it, and it would only attract Gulls.  Short video below in between Sue's short time off the nest.  Enjoy.



Saturday, 15 May 2021

Mandarin Checks Out The Ramp


 
Our Mandarin duck has made himself at home on the Swans Island. 



Yesterday he walked down the newly turfed ramp, and had a good meal with his Mallard pals,





                   lovely to see. 

Thursday, 13 May 2021

All Ramped Up


Heavy rain today puts a dampener on everything, even Disco and her ducklings have had more than enough, and taken to the dry Aviary. 



                            I have been putting finishing touches to the Island Moat ramps. These will be vital to the cygnets after they hatch, unlike ducklings they cannot jump, and have to clamber up the banks. I laid the Turf, kindly donated by RB landscapes Nairn.  A small detail, but the ability for the newly hatched cygnets to get out of the water and back to the nest is vital.  Survival is often down to luck, like what the weather throws at them when newly hatched. A fast flowing flooded river can be a deadly place for ducklings and cygnets. 



 Hopefully the weather will improve soon and all will be well. The Trust tries to ensure an optimum start for our resident swans. 


Friday, 7 May 2021

Sue Gets a Break



 Weather has been pretty cold lately, with a relentless Northerly wind, sleet and rain. 



Sue has weathered it all, keeping her clutch safe and warm very rarely leaving the nest. 



Today an easing of the wind and short spells of blue sky and sunshine, she came down for a well deserved break. Slim was on hand to take over watching the precious nest.



 Sue had a feed, wash and preen, before heading back to the job in hand. Only hope the weather improves for the hatching, after the longest cold spell I can ever remember.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Marvellous Mandarin



Our Exotic visitor continues to enjoy the company  and advantages of the Swans Island. 



                       It's a welcome splash of colour, to a spell of bleak cold grey weather. 



Overnight rain raised the river level, but our colourful friend made sure of his place in the food chain. 



He is quite aggressive to any Mallards that get too close, as can be seen in this photo, baring his beak to a scared drake. I am wondering if his mate is nesting not too far away. 



Known as forest ducks, they nest in tree holes, as high as 10 metres from the ground from mid April. Apparently they enjoy the company of other wildfowl...so it seems. Short video below shows him keeping a drake away.



Sunday, 2 May 2021

Slim And The Mandarin



 Surprise visitor to the swans island today, a very beautiful and colourful male Mandarin duck. I know we have one or two farther up the river, but have never seen one this far down the riverside.



 Slim was intrigued by this newcomer, and kept following him up and down the Moat. 



The Mallards were unperturbed but Slim was really giving him the once over.



 Meanwhile, Disco and her flock are thriving on a diet of chick crumb starter, Dried mealworm and chopped lettuce...



 doubled in size in a week. short video below.


 

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Too Cute



Just how do you keep 17 ducklings warm in  an icy wind ?



 Get a sunny spot, out of the wind, under a bush.



                    If all that fails, get under your Mum 😊.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Look What I've Got !



 Finally the end result of Disco's egg laying marathon.. 15 plus 2 from the gull raided nest. 



Only 3 eggs did not hatch from her total of 18 laid. Also found that incubation can take 30 days instead of 28. 



Having thought after her nesting disturbance and cold eggs, they would not survive. If these all make it to the river in 8 weeks time, this will make Disco's contribution of 55 ducks in the past 5 seasons. 



Broken wing or not, she is a great mother duck survivor. 



 Donnie is overwhelmed by the offspring, enjoy the first dip in the pool, short video below.



Saturday, 24 April 2021

Busy Week



 Been a busy week all round. The near disaster with Disco having let her eggs get cold during the Frosty nights, has miraculously come right. 



Of the 10 eggs put to the incubator, 8 have hatched and are now sitting comfortably under Disco. I was frankly not expecting any to survive, but nature has again shown it's resilience and will to survive.


Meanwhile Slim had to flex his wings the other day by chasing off 2 intruders that flew in. He wasted no time in seeing them off across the bailey bridge.

The bad news this week was the 9 ducklings hatched in the harbour last week have been decimated by the Crows, leaving a distraught mother duck with only one.



 The other 6 also hatched last week have disappeared again to early predation by Crows and Gulls. 



Our new environmentally conscious member, has been helping collect litter and assisting the Trust with donated Gravel.  This has been a useful windfall to firm up the Island moat. 



 The current local Trustees assisted by local resident volunteers, provided the muscle power for a job well done.  

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Incubator 2 Hatch



The two eggs saved from the Gulls assault on the island ducks nest, - hatched yesterday.

 So far, Disco's eggs show no signs of life, with 2 days to go before the due date ! 



Meanwhile the saved ones are drying off nicely in a brooding box.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

First Ducklings Hatch



Beautiful surprise on the riverside today, not one but two hatchings of Ducklings ! 


A mother with 6 at the Swans island, and another with 9 in the Harbour.



 Lovely to see new life appear on the riverside at the start of what we hope will be a bumper year for the waterfowl. 

Reminder: Please don't throw bread to the ducklings, at this age and size, they will be taken by attracting Gulls and Crows !

Friday, 16 April 2021

Disco Nesting Disaster ?



With only a week to go before Disco's ducklings were due to hatch...bad news ! A couple of nights ago I heard a commotion coming from Disco in the garden, something had spooked her off her nest.

I suspect it may have been a Mouse getting underneath her warm nest on a frosty night. The upshot was, she would not go back to her large clutch, around 18 eggs ! After a couple of hours I decided to check the nest and felt the eggs which were pretty cold. 



Realising the potential disaster, I took 10 of the eggs and put them in the incubator, in the hope that they can be saved. I will know in about a weeks time, but I don't hold out much hope, as they were pretty cold after several hours during a very cold night. 



By Morning Disco had returned to the nest and has resumed her normal routine sitting on the remaining eggs. I will be astonished if any survive with only a week of incubation remaining and getting so cold. Previous years she has nested in the safety of the coop, this year she opted for outdoors in the aviary which is not Mouse proof ! The incubator has 2 other duck eggs, salvaged from an abandoned nest attacked by gulls!  I'm hopeful these might hatch in a weeks time.



 Meanwhile, Donnie awaits the big day.