Friday 2 September 2022

Green Grass

While down south have parched ground, we have probably had the best summer for many years. We had enough rain to keep things green but not enough for the river system. Having had many ducklings keeping my grass down, I now have to cut it again after they were released. 

                    I hate waste and the Swans get my grass cuttings which they thoroughly enjoy. 

They are almost fully grown and ready to fly as soon as Slim gets his new plumage complete in a week or two. 

Meanwhile our 3 remaining golden ducklings along with 6  dark ones, are growing fast and should be safe from most predators in about a weeks time.

Monday 29 August 2022

Ten On Day Ten

                    In spite of the best efforts by the Mother duck and myself, three of the ducklings have been lost to predators since last Friday. 

Sadly 2 of them were the golden yellow ones. For 7 days she held onto all 13 ducklings, and I had high hopes that she might keep them all. 

                 I have been feeding them 3 times a day with all they can eat protein, and they are twice the size of a week ago. 

Today I watched as she positioned the ducklings in a very camouflaged spot, using the surrounding dead yellow weed to disguise the ducklings.

 Even a day on the river can be a lifetime, and they will not be properly safe  for another 2 weeks !

Again I ask people not to attempt throwing bread anywhere in their vicinity - this only draws the attention of predators!

Short video below showing the full brood the day before she lost 2.

Wednesday 24 August 2022

Guarding The Gold

                    Incredibly the late hatch of 13 ducklings after a week, are still intact! 

Considering 5 of them are pure gold and easily spotted by predators. 

The Trust can take a little credit having worked out a strategy to aid survival. 

Keeping them away from predatory hotspots and ensuring a feeding regime at the same time and place 3 or 4 times every day, with a high protein diet for the ducklings was the key. 

The mother duck has been exemplary, keeping a watchful eye on them and the predators. I have seen her twice threaten gulls that got too close for comfort.

 She uses the natural cover to blend in, hide, and keep the brood safe. 

The Crows and Gulls do not like long grass, and the Crows are no longer feeding their young, all help the survival of the brood. Short videos below. 


Saturday 20 August 2022

Gold At The End Of The Rainbow

Stunning double surprise yesterday, With a Spectacular Rainbow appearing above the swans Island. 

This was accompanied by the appearance of a newly hatched brood of 13 ducklings! 

                  Incredibly this was the same mother of Saffron and Ebony last year, almost to the day !  

Five of her new brood are also little golden yellow ones! 

What a privilege to have her come to me again with her brood, naturally rewarded with a good feed. 

                  If she stays close to the Swans island she may be able to keep them safe long enough to survive. It will not be easy as the golden ducklings are easily spotted by predators. The thick undergrowth and warmer temperatures will also help. 

Staying away from the Merryton bridge and the deadly Gulls and Crows will be key to their chances at this early stage of life. Please do not throw bread to them if you see them, this will only attract predators that will kill them! Short video of rainbow below.

Tuesday 16 August 2022

Cygnets at 3 Months

Sue has regrown her new plumage and should be able to resume flying shortly, Slim has a month to go. 

Meanwhile the cygnets are nearly the size of both, and almost ready for flight training.

 Short video below.

Thursday 11 August 2022

Sue Hulbert - The Swan Saver

Twelve years ago, after Penny our resident swan was attacked by a dog on the riverside. I had the good fortune to contact Sue Hulbert. 

 An internet search led me to Fairford Swan Aid, who gave me Sue's number. I had been told that she was an expert on swans injuries and phoned her right away. 

 This was the start of a friendship that endures today, and she is thankfully still the River Nairn Swans and waterfowl Trustee, and  Avian adviser. 

That first phone call and her expert advice helped save Penny's life who went on to rear 70 cygnets until 2020 when she retired and left the river.

 Over the years I have called Sue many times for advice on how to treat injured birds.

 Sue has a swan Sanctuary of her own down in Wiltshire and has over 30 years experience dealing with injured Wildlife.

 As a council ranger has been called on by the RSPCA and Police to rescue Swans , often in dangerous locations like motorways and lakes.

 All the more impressive as she is barely over 5 foot and weighs only 7 stone! 

Time marches on, and like myself, Sue is now in her 70s and semi - retired from wildlife rescues due to health issues, something I can well understand. Over the years she has rescued hundreds of swans and all sorts of other birds and animals seen here. 

Talking  recently , I told her that if there's an animal heaven...she will surely be there ! People like Sue are rare, few and far between, they make the world a better place for all of us. With compassion to educate the rest of us, to see the world as it should be seen. 

Only last year she had a dozen hedgehogs. 6 cats, a parrot, 2 disabled ducks and several pigeons. She will continue to care for them, but the big rescues are now over. I used to joke with her about being the crazy cat lady, but genuinely she is the Swan Saver Lady. 

She paid us a visit in 2013 and is welcome to come again anytime, thankfully she will remain our trusted avian adviser.

Monday 8 August 2022

Successful Release By DUV...Duck Utility Vehicle

Conditions for the release of the recovered Duck and her brood were ideal today. 

Had to improvise the transport and do the job myself, using the DUV... duck utility vehicle! 

                    It's amazing what a mobility scooter can carry, 8 ducks and myself !  

The mother duck has recovered well from her head injury, and the ducklings are on the verge of flight, as she led them into the river. 

They were accompanied by Disco's daughter who returned to the Trust care home twice. Short video below showing their last bath in the care of the Trust.

Friday 29 July 2022

Summer Swans

Summer at it's peak, with low water conditions and maximum vegetation growth, makes for easy living for the waterbirds.

 Sue has moulted and Slim will soon follow. 

Meanwhile he is the prime mover and has to take the lead showing the cygnets how to exercise their wings....

                  after a good feed of course!  Short videos below.

Wednesday 27 July 2022

Not All Doom And Gloom

After yesterdays sad news, it's not all doom and gloom here, it was nice to see the injured mother duck and her ducklings dashing around the garden pond. 

Pleased to report that she has made a full recovery and her eyesight does not appear to have been permanently damaged. 

She has just started moulting and they will all be ready for release around the middle of August. Short video below.