Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Seal Pup Snooze

Unusual scene today at Merryton bridge area. A young seal pup basking on the shingle bed in mid river. 

Tide was long gone, and not high tide until after 5 pm today. I had reports about a week ago that two seals were seen together, this is probably one of them being taught how to fish by the mother.

The river mouth is ideal at this time of year, as many Salmon Kelts will be returning to the sea after spawning, easy to catch for a young seal. 

Was catching a few sun rays, unperturbed by me or the ducks.   

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

White Pigeon Recovers

UPDATE: Released the Pigeon this morning, it was keen to join the others, and frosty spell now over.

Two weeks after escaping death from a Sparrowhawk attack, the White pigeon is well on the way to full recovery. I have been treating the neck injury with anti bacterial cream, and gave it a bath to remove the dried blood and damaged feathers.

Has been happy sitting in a box in the kitchen with plenty of food and water, but today decided it was time to fly, finding it  on top of an open door.

Was unable to fly two weeks ago, so I'm delighted it's now well enough to do so.

Will transfer it to the Aviary soon, then release back to the flock when fully fit.

Monday, 25 November 2019

Moat Restoration

With the help and  contribution of Trust members over the last week, the Swans Island Moat has been restored. 

Picking stones is not exactly easy work for someone my age, so I was glad of the help. Short video showing happy birds below.

Hopefully it will remain a nice Nursery area for future Cygnets and ducklings !

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Moat Remedial Work

Calm conditions and low water allowed the Trust to carry out some remedial work on the Swans Island Moat. 

Freezing temperatures over the last few days meant that some hardy Trust members wrapped up well and got on with the manual work, reinstating several tons of stones. 

Tattie Picking with Stones ! Penny and Duke could not resist coming over to test the water, which rose several inches to their satisfaction. Parties with a vested interest were informed.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Lucky Escape on the 13th

Yet again the Town Sparrowhawks are busy taking pigeons. 

Today I spotted one of the rare white pigeons wandering around my garden in a dazed condition, it was unable to take off and had blood showing on it's feathers.

After close inspection it was obviously hit by a Sparrowhawk, the back of the head and neck were devoid of feathers and looked pretty raw. How it managed to escape is a mystery. Gave it an anti inflammatory, currently being kept warm with food and water.  

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Early Winter ?

After a poor Summer all the signs look like an early winter as well.

This part of the world usually doesn't see much snow until after Christmas. 

Climate change has put paid to all the norms, now we can expect anything at any time !

Thankfully some things don't change, like the sound and beauty of a Robin, or the sight of snowy white Swans on a snowy day !  

Been a while since we had a hard a feeling we wont have to wait much longer !

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Tree Moat Damage

Recent river spates brought fallen trees downstream, causing damage to the Swans Island Moat.

Some of these trees are hefty, and pack a punch when hitting anything head on.

The Trust will have to repair the damage when conditions allow, before the spring.
Meanwhile Penny and Duke are short of depth in the moat.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Sparrowhawk Kills Angie and Bluey !

Being a bird Rehabber, able to rescue and return to the wild a sick or injured bird, can be extremely rewarding. However, the opposite can also be heart breaking. 

Yesterday was a real downer for me when I discovered Angie the injured wood pigeon dead in the aviary. I had been treating her for the past 5 weeks and she was flying and progressing well.

She had been killed in the aviary by a Sparrowhawk who had also killed and taken Bluey, a feral pigeon with a broken wing that I had kept safe for the past 3 years. 

                       Incredibly the Sparrowhawk had entered the Aviary by getting between overlapping wooden Slats that were barely an inch and half apart. It was able to kill and take Bluey from the floor of the aviary up and out through the slats, leaving only a trail of feathers showing the route.
I have 2 aviaries which are only used for sick, injured, or orphaned birds. Disco the Mallard duck with a broken wing uses one of them and has been shaken up by the experience. She would have witnessed the Sparrowhawk killing both Pigeons and has been reluctant to leave her aviary ever since.

The Sparrowhawk has gotten into one of the aviary's before, when the door was open and there were no occupants, witness the Photo I took before it was able to escape. 
This time of year always seems to favour the Sparrowhawks, as the leaves disappear and expose plenty of targets for them.
Having fixed Angie's broken wing successfully I am particularly vexed at her sad and premature demise. 

Monday, 28 October 2019

Swans Christmas Calendar

Last reminder to everyone about the River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust 2020 Calendar. 

Most of them have now been sold, but a few remaining around the Town. 

They can still be purchased from The Gift Pearl shop, The Nairn book shop, and Strachans. There will be no further print runs this year.

All the profits go to the upkeep of the River birds. A very nice inexpensive Christmas present for the family !

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Good Nutrition

After 15 years observing and caring for our river waterfowl, It's great to see them in such good condition.

Despite being a shallow, fast flowing spate river, often devoid of natural feeding, the efforts of the Trust feeding regime has ensured we have a very healthy population of waterfowl - which shows in the condition of the birds.

At this time of year, the Trust provides a weekly ration of 95kg of wheat grain, mixed wild bird seed, and poultry pellets, for our 200 birds.

Small amounts of Wholemeal bread and dried mealworm is also given to Penny, Duke and the ducklings.

White bread has no nutritional value, as the protein has been removed during processing.

During the Summer, pulled fresh grass and dandelion leaves are eaten by the swans, along with natural river weed, and seaweed on the shoreline. 
I would happily compare the condition of our healthy waterfowl with any others - anywhere in the country !

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Swans Challenge

That time of year again when new pairs start to seek out new partners, and new territories. One of the best Autumn days of the year, blue skies, warm sunshine and no wind.

Two new Swans entered the river, encroaching on Penny and Dukes home territory - a challenge that had to be met. 

Was all very civilised, Penny and duke calmly escorted them back out to Sea, no blows were needed.
Meanwhile the last ducklings are half grown, and I have an Oliver duckling - forever tugging at my trouser leg asking for more at feeding time. It is persistent and adorable, giving me a laugh every time, short clip below.


Friday, 11 October 2019

Angie In The Aviary

Having bandaged Angie the young Woodpigeons wing for a further week, I felt confident enough to remove it and transfer her to the Aviary. 

The Wing is now fused for good or ill, and can only hope it gets used enough to be able to eventually release her into the wild.

She can currently fly enough to take off from the ground and land on a perch. She has several broken feathers and most of her tail feathers still missing, otherwise she is in fine health.

She shares the Aviary with Bluey, a male feral pigeon with a broken wing that I've had for 3 years, he is confined to the ground, but allowed outside to mingle with the pigeon visitors.
Meanwhile Angie enjoys TLC and is partial to black sunflower seeds, served up in an egg cup...short video below.

Monday, 7 October 2019

Injured Duck Family Success

Entering their 7th week, the previously injured duck that was nesting on the swans island, has been one of the most successful breeders on the lower river this year. 

She has managed to save 7 out of the 10 hatched on the 24th of August. All the more amazing, as she could not walk at one stage and was forever sitting down or standing on one leg. Nesting late in the season seems to be catching on with some ducks, and these are often the most successful. 

More cover, more food, less predation and warmer weather, all have a positive effect on their success rate. 

Today she was relaxing after a good feed at the bridge with her 7 ducklings and her mate close by. She and her mate are both moulting, and their new feather growth is timed to coincide with the ducklings full feather growth as well, in another month or so, she will let the ducklings go fend for themselves.