Saturday, 25 September 2021

Injured Cygnet Lifts Off !

Happy to report that after several days treatment, the injured Cygnet is now using the injured left leg, able to take off and Fly !  

Today I witnessed all  the cygnets take off and fly up river...barring Runty, who is still bringing up the rear. 

The injured one is still resting the leg when not in use, but I have seen it walking.

 Will continue with the treatment for another couple of days which will help recovery. 

Sequence of shots shows some of the cygnets take off ..

distance shots and no time to adjust camera!

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Injured Cygnet Chased By Canoes !

Yesterday I noticed one of the cygnets unable to cross the shingle  at feeding time. I knew something was wrong as the rest of the family were eating, as it paced back and forth in the water. Eventually using it's wings it scrabbled over the shingle bed trailing one leg. From what I could see, the leg was intact but obviously unusable. 

My feeling was a bad landing in shallow water during the high gusty winds. I have given it 2 doses of anti inflammatory / pain killer, in the hope that it will heal quicker. The use of the legs is vital to be able to take off and fly!  

This morning after dispensing the treatment the family rested on the shingle bed, all except the injured cygnet sticking to the water. This is exactly what was needed...only to be shattered by the curse of Canoes ! 

Even after asking them nicely to avoid disturbing the wildlife and the injured bird, they still chased all of them away. Seems they don't care about the rights or welfare of the wildlife, even when injured ! There should be NO BOATING in this part of the river !

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Equinox Feeding Time

Our River birds react strongly to the Autumn Equinox - equal daylight and darkness. The nights get longer and colder, prompting them to increase their food intake. The Trust supplies and feeds them daily with Wheat grain, poultry pellets, and mixed wild bird seed. Annually we dispense over 3 tons for over 200 birds. The birds gather at feeding points, at the appropriate time, with much excitement as can be heard in the video below. Our Swan family are slow eaters compared to the ducks! Changing weather and wind direction, will bring geese from the North and send the Swallows South over the coming days.

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Dip an Dive

Follow on last post, short video of our intrepid ducklings and Disco, all having an enjoyable dip in the garden pond. 

Also good news from Trust member Louise, saying she saw all 7 cygnets and parents flying along east beach and landing close to lighthouse this morning, fantastic sight ! 

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Saffron Turns White

As expected, our cute Saffron duckling is turning whiter with every passing day. 

Every few years we get a throwback from a mallard to a domestic type hybrid Pekin duck. From research, it appears that  domestic ducks ancestors are mallard ducks, and white ones originate from selective breeding. They carry a single recessive mutation to a MITF gene which regulates melanin production...hence some with pure white plumage ! 

This single recessive mutation will continue to pop up periodically. Sadly, literally  a dead giveaway to the predators, being so easily spotted day or night ! Saffron's sibling Ebony, although dark will no doubt also carry the mutation, just like their  mother. Short video enjoying life below.

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Simply Superb Swans

Four Months since hatching, our Swan family is now Simply Superb Swans ! Even the Runts development has finally caught up with the other cygnets and now able to join in the flying training exercises. 

The extra daily feeding has helped it blossom out, as can be seen in this wing spread shot. 

We have a lovely river family of Slim, Sue and Seven cygnets. Benign weather conditions right now has helped preserve the river weed, beneficial to the good health of the Swans.

 The next big spate will mean an end to the weed until next year, with shorter days and colder nights. 

Looking forward to getting some in flight shots, as in bygone days above.

Friday, 10 September 2021

Good Week

This has been a good week, not always the case when dealing with wildlife. 

The successful release of Doris and her ducklings, also opened a new chapter for Saffron and Ebony, now in the care of the Trust. 

My hopes that Disco our resident disabled duck would foster Saffron and Ebony once Doris and ducklings were off the scene, appears to be happening right now. 

Disco has been warming to the Motherless pair, and allowing them to get closer without squabbling her discontent. The pair are now 3 weeks old and still have to cuddle together in the absence of motherly love.

 However, since being allowed into the garden at last, they have room to run around and have a dip in the garden pond, dashing back to Disco if danger threatens.

Meanwhile Doris and her ducklings have settled happily back to the river life and integrated with the other ducks.

 Our late developer cygnet Runty, has put on weight and blossomed outwards, almost catching up with the other 6 well developed siblings. Yes, it's been a good week! Short video below showing Saffron and Ebony at 3 weeks.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Doris Ducklings D - Day

After 8 weeks care, Doris and her Ducklings have been released back to the wild. 

Conditions were ideal for a successful release, with warm sunshine, Spring tides, and Doris's leg healed even better than I had ever hoped ! 

The spring tides for the coming week will allow her to access the banks more easily, also show her ducklings the whole length of the tidal reaches.

 My thanks to Martin our Trust chairman for the transport to the riverside. Doris is currently moulting she is the one with the white feathers showing on her back. 2 Short videos below, one the day before release - noisy female excitement with Doris active exiting the pool. 


Monday, 6 September 2021

Expanding Horizons

Our Swan Family has been having daily excursions along the Coast over the past 3 days. Slim and Sue have now moulted and regrown their new plumage, both can now fly again. 

Today they encouraged the Cygnets to flap their way up river by flying some way ahead of them. Looks like they are expanding their horizons in preparation for flight training and eventual departure! 

Meanwhile they are looking good and even Runty is catching up, eating with gusto now ! 

Friday, 3 September 2021

Ducklings Progress

Doris's Ten ducklings are approaching the fledging point and should be ready for release at the end of next week. 

Doris has made such a great recovery from the broken leg, that I've decided she can also return with her brood back to the river. 

She has been moulting and will also have a limp, but her prospects are good and her brood will benefit from her experience. 

The good thing is that at least half her brood are females, which is great for future stocks. In spite of the horrendous injury, she has ensured the survival of all her brood...something that would not have happened if she did not have the accident! I can honestly say she is one of my best rehab successes. 

Meanwhile Saffron and Ebony are also growing, in spite of non mothering by Disco. 

She tolerates them sharing the coop and aviary, but no love given.

 However, when we return Doris and ducklings to the river, Disco will be more inclined to get on with Saffron and Ebony.

Short video below showing Disco having a preen bath, and Saffron and ebony doing their own thing. 

Sunday, 29 August 2021


Being long in the tooth and the outdoor type, means hindsight reaches farther back when judging Climate change on a personal level.

                          In recent years I have observed the rapid decline in insect life especially in late spring, early summer. 

This in turn effects the insect eating birds dramatically.

 My daily observations over the last 16 years on the riverside gives me a historical perspective on our local waterbirds behaviour. 

This is the first year we have had five local hatchings of ducklings after mid August, which is late. 

Traditionally nesting season would be all but over by the end of June. Having the odd late hatching is not unusual, but having five is. 

Over the past few years I had noticed that some ducks had delayed nesting until mid summer, this got me thinking on the reasons. 

My conclusions were lack of natural food in the spring months as well as lack of vegetation cover. Even in the house and garden the lack of insect life has been very obvious. Ask any long standing car owner, how many insects they have stuck to their windscreens and headlights, compared to a generation ago?

 Lack of insects might be a boon to some, but these are a vital part of the food chain, for us as much as other species. Currently we have a large high pressure over the country. It will be interesting to see how the jet stream effects the migration times this autumn. Climate change is here and now.