Saturday, 16 February 2019

Duke Flies In

My long standing rapport with Duke and Penny has it's rewards. Understanding and observing them over many years allows me to often anticipate their next moves.

Today was one of those occasions when I guessed that Duke would rather fly than walk up river. It was feeding time and they were a couple of hundred yards away, but I knew Duke might take off and fly up so got the camera out and ready.

Sure enough he did what I thought, and managed to get a few shots as he approached to land just 4 feet away from me - 

                     I could see him judging where to land, it was so beautiful and skilful.

Thursday, 14 February 2019


With Spring like temperatures, was nice to see the pairing and bonding on the riverside.

Valentine's day seemed to be echoed by the birds.

Duke and Penny enjoying their new freedom, and my Woodpigeon pals likewise preening and bonding, all very Spring like.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Harbour Check

Penny and Duke are now enjoying the brief interval before this years nesting season begins.

Having fledged the cygnets they now have the river to themselves - and the ducks of course !

However, they are making sure the cygnets have stayed away, and keep checking the harbour and channel in case they return.

Penny will now feast and relax until nest building time, and Duke will guard the territory fearlessly.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Rainbow Magic

Another trip to the pier lighthouse resulted in some Rainbow magic ! 

Went down to witness Penny and Duke chasing the cygnets out to sea, then away to the west.

Shortly after, the skies darkened and the predicted rain showers began. 

Minutes later, one of the most vivid full spectrum rainbows I have ever seen, appeared right in front of Duke and Penny as they sailed right into it !  Was pure gold ! 

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Banished With Tough Love

Duke is determined to keep his offspring out of his territory from now on - no matter what. You can see the power as he ploughs through the water ! Today he diligently escorted the youngsters to the end of the pier several times, and leaves them be when they enter the sea.

This is the territorial boundary which he will enforce ruthlessly for the rest of his life, this is his and Penny's territory and he in his prime, ready to tackle all comers.

He has proved himself to Penny several times over, by sticking with her and seeing off any competition, capping it all with the successful parenting of their first brood together. 

Even now he is doing what all successful Cobs do, saying goodbye with tough love to his offspring after 9 months of care and education.
I could not resist visiting the cygnets down by the pier to give them one last snack. 

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

A Frosty Chinese Farewell

Another generation of Nairn cygnets are being expelled from the River today. 

Penny and Duke seem to have adopted the start of Chinese new year as the start of spring, (coincidentally this date is also the Chinese belief as the start of spring.)

                        It was obvious that Duke and Penny were in a determined mood to start the expulsion. 

Duke in particular was very aggressive and backed up by Penny, the cygnets have got the message that their nursery days are over. 

They've had 9 months of great care and attention and are now fit for life's journey. 

They are the 10th generation of Penny and we wish them well. 

Pics tell the story of todays frosty farewell. 

Monday, 4 February 2019

Tufted Duck

The Hard frost of recent times, has finally driven some birds to the river. 

Frozen ponds and lochs mean hard times for some species. 

This morning I spotted the first female Tufted duck in the river this winter, she was happily swimming among the mallards who were quite accepting of her presence. 

Meanwhile 3 cygnets were having a little chat together.

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Snow Birds

Coldest night of the year so far, lovely blue sky, cold fresh air and no wind. This type of winter weather suits me fine. 

Thought Penny and Duke had chased the cygnets away, as they both turned up for their daily feed alone. 

They both enjoyed their feed in relative peace, with Penny giving snorts of satisfaction. Short video below.

Once finished with the feed, they settled down for a preen in the morning Sun. 

Decided to check down by the harbour to see if the cygnets were there, as this was the spot I fed them yesterday. 

Sure enough there they were a few yards from the ice encased harbour. Looks like Penny and Duke have already made the break, and should be relatively easy to escort the cygnets away at their time of choosing. They have had them around for nearly 9 months which is about the longest rearing period  in the 12 years since Penny has been in the river. 

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Bitter Breeze

After a couple of days thaw, the river has risen and the birds retreat to the Island haven. 

Wind has now come in from the north and is bitterly cold, even the Swans have their heads down today. 

Penny is unlikely to chase the cygnets away until favourable weather conditions return.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Gary Has Gone

Seems that Gary the injured Pink footed goose has recovered enough to leave the Harbour. He had been receiving grain feed for several days during the big freeze and was last seen on Tuesday. 

With high spring tides and half the Harbour covered in ice it was difficult for him moving around.  I am hoping he recovered enough to re-join the flocks of geese along the coast. At one point he flexed his wings and they looked symmetrical, this bodes well indicating no broken bones. 

He certainly had a good grain feed on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, hopefully giving him the energy needed to take off.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Duke and Sons

Bitterly cold and grey day, and more on the way. 

Our Swan family are still here, and cygnets looking more and more like adult Swans every day. Will this months spring tide be their last on the river ?  

Duke is happy to have his offspring around him, with  two of his sons close by.

The females are more subdued and the bill colours starting to change.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Gary The Goose

ad a visit from the Police whilst Feeding the river birds the other day. I was informed about an injured Pink Footed Goose which has been seen in the Harbour for about a week or more.

Was asked to check it out and see what could be done, perhaps with the involvement of the Scottish SPCA.
I made a visit to the harbour and sure enough there was Gary the goose (Policeman called him that ). He was very wary and headed for the water when approached. I took a few photos of him and looked for signs of injury, He appears to have a damaged left wing with some missing flight feathers, otherwise OK. 

Most likely shot and injured by one of the coastal cowboy wildfowlers. 

After contacting the SSPCA, they realised that catching him would be very difficult as he can run and swim well, and also able to hide under the pontoons.

The Trust has taken on the task of caring for him by providing grain feed, as the harbour has little or no food to sustain him in the long term. If he has no broken wing bones and only needs to regrow some new flight feathers, then it is possible he will make a full recovery - given time. 

The Trust and SSPCA will be keeping a close watch on his welfare, and would ask people to give him a wide berth and avoid throwing bread to him,  this would only scare him and attract crows and gulls,  he would not eat bread in any case. He is very much a wild goose and rightly wary of people.