Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Swans Walking




 Swans are renowned for their grace and elegance in the water. However not quite so over land, as the short clip below shows.



Saturday, 19 September 2020

Slim Gets Slimmer

Slim gave me a full view of his featherless wings the other day in full moult. By contrast one of the Cygnets showed it's full plumage almost at the same time. 




Full wingspan is about 6 feet on these beautiful birds. It will be another 3 weeks before Slim takes to the air again. Meanwhile I saw the cygnets fly about 3 feet above the surface of the river a couple of days ago. They are in tip top condition ad barely three and half months old.





 The latest broods of ducklings are also progressing well, still being looked after by their devoted Mothers, lovely to see.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Swallows Prepare

Winds swing in from the north, bringing migrating Geese in. 


Third week in September is the usual time for bird Migrations to begin. 



The same northerly winds generally take the Swallows south on their trip to Africa. 


Today I watched a family of Swallows at the Harbour, the parents still feeding their young as the temperature dropped. 




Trying to get a shot of them feeding the babies, pretty difficult for my ill equipped camera and old hands !

Saturday, 12 September 2020

EXTINCTION !




As a lifetime admirer of Sir David Attenborough, I look forward to his latest documentary on BBC TV tomorrow night. No doubt we will all enjoy seeing the variety of wildlife species on offer, but be warned - it will not be the usual spectacle, but some heartbreaking scenes of suffering and extinction!
Human activity and our insatiable appetite for more of everything is driving the Planet into a freefall of self destruction. The simple truth is, we are living beyond our means and causing this global crisis.



We only have one Planet but using the natural resources of three !
Having seen the trailer of the extinction documentary, it will merely confirm what many have realised for decades and seem powerless to stop. This pandemic should in fact be used as a wake up call, and prompt a rethink of how we live our lives. The whole Planet and everything on it is a living entity, each species interacting and effecting all others. 



Human intelligence has to be re directed away from consumerism, and the pursuit of dreams of Happiness through financial wealth and the possession of "things". We can all make changes that would help the Planet. On a personal level, I got rid of my car 17 years ago when I moved from the country into the Town. This had many benefits, I walked everywhere which was good for my health, and saved a small fortune since. It also stopped polluting the Planet with poisonous exhaust emissions. The simple act of planting a tree is something we can all do. I don't possess a smartphone, let alone the latest model, but I manage.
Maybe it's just my generation that are fully aware of what has happened over the last 60 years. Wise people have realised a long time ago what human greed and activity would do. I have touched on this before by quoting Chief Seattle .

Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught, will we realise that we can not eat money.
 If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to the man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth.





                                I cant recall the last time I saw a Yellowhammer, or listened to a skylark, or Curlew or  Lapwing, once common bird species in decline. How sad for future generations if we don't change our ways and stop destroying the Planet.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Nearly There



Three months old and cygnet wings nearly developed enough for flight training.  


Slim has now started moulting and will be unable to fly for a month, by then the cygnets should also be capable of flight. 


Sue has her new plumage and now the main defender of the cygnets, the only one able to fly right now.

Friday, 4 September 2020

Sue Takes The Lead



Windier weather confines Sue, Slim and the cygnets to the river. 


Cygnets are still a couple of weeks shy of being able to fly, but they are steadily growing. 


Sue is as diligent as her mother Penny was, and takes the lead in everything they do. She has now grown her new plumage and capable of flight again, as yet Slim has still not moulted, as you can see by the outstretched wings ! 


All are in excellent condition, partly due to the Trust quality feeding regime.

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

All At Sea



Our Swans returned to the river the following day, eager for sustenance provided by the Trust.


Today, yet another scare by a canoe coming downstream chasing all the wildlife away from the Town water. 


The Swans also driven out to sea yet again by the curse of canoes and kayaks, depriving visitors and locals from seeing our peaceful wildlife on the town water. With the sea like a millpond, the boating enthusiasts should stick to the coastal water and leave the Town wildlife in peace.

Sunday, 30 August 2020

Swans Excursion ?



Our Swan family headed out to Sea around mid day, and at Sunset tonight they had still not returned.
The weather is fine and settled with growing tides this week, ideal conditions for scouting along the coastline, perhaps even returning to their original homeland ?  Slim has been disappearing 2 or 3 times a week in recent times, perhaps yearning for home territory or maybe just in need of some fresh greens.

The sunset tonight was spectacular as it often is in this part of the world.



Thursday, 27 August 2020

NEW GENERATION SWAN CALENDAR

The River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust Calendar Limited Edition is now available.


Because of Covid 19, the print has been limited mainly to Trust Members. However, there will be a few available to the public from the Nairn Bookshop. All profits go to the welfare of the Birds. 

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Late Ducklings - Early Autumn ?

The season for Ducklings has so far been good. 


The Virus lockdown helped earlier in the year giving the wildlife a little more peace to nest. The current surviving total on the lower river is 49, which includes the 15 released by the Trust some time ago. 


Was only 3 days ago that we had the latest hatching of 8 ducklings, preceded 3 weeks ago by another 9.   All are thriving, and there is still a chance of even more turning up at this late stage.


 The late broods are becoming more common and are also more successful at surviving. The reasons I believe the mother ducks are catching on to later nesting are - less predation, more cover, more food available, warmer temperatures, shorter nights, and less pressure from Drakes that have started moulting. I note that the current mothers also had late hatching last year, and have learned to repeat the process. 


This bodes well for the future, as their offspring are also likely to nest later in the year. If you see the current ducklings, Please don't throw bread on top of them, as this will only draw down predatory Gulls and crows on them.

Saturday, 22 August 2020

Heron River Diet



Over the years I have observed the resident birds on our river. 


The Heron has always been present and makes for good photos, standing sentinel like and rarely moving. 


Don't be fooled by this pose, the reflexes on this species are lighting fast when it comes to catching food. 



Anything that's alive is on the menu, fish or fowl, anything goes with this character. 



Here are some of the images I captured out with his normal sentinel stance. Some people don't believe they eat ducklings, the images below should dispel that thought.

The Mother duck could only watch as the heron swallowed it alive !

This bird is feared by others, especially when their young are around.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Paddle Power



Sue is still flightless, but should be able to fly at the end of the month with her new feathers growing out rapidly. 


The Cygnets too are growing fast, and meanwhile paddling around exercising their wings and feet. Perfectly adapted for powering through water, and joints that allow for rapid rotation.


People often think they have injured legs when resting them on their backs. Two Short video clips below. 



Friday, 14 August 2020

SWANS TRAGEDY to TRIUPH

About a week before Sue hatched her cygnets, I received an email from a lady called Claire Alexandre down in Lancashire. She had been told about the Nairn swans island and this website by a Trust member living in the Manchester area. Claire told me a heartbreaking story which had been on the local TV, Radio, and newspapers. The story relates to a pair of Swans that had nested on the bank of a local lake for the first time and laid 6 eggs. 



Local people were delighted and watched eagerly for weeks waiting on the big day. About a day or so before hatching, 3 youths scared the birds from the nest and cruelly threw a large concrete slab on top of the nest !!




They killed all 6 baby cygnets that were fully formed with down and ready for hatching, it was a despicable, vicious  act and enraged the whole community who were heartbroken. The Female Swan was also heartbroken and franticly swam beside the nest and crushed eggs!
The Police and RSPCA are hunting the youths, and Claire set up a funding page on the internet - justice for Swans. Having heard about The River Nairn swans island, Claire wanted to raise funds to see if they could build an island for their distraught swans, hence the email to me.
I was pretty enraged hearing the story, and only too glad to be of assistance. 



I asked Claire to send me some photos of the lake and surrounding banks etc. Within a week of setting up her funding page, Claire had raised over £3000, from a sympathetic public.




Having looked at the photos Claire sent, it was clear to me with a path all round the lakeside the swans nesting at the edge was just not viable, with fishing allowed, people, and dogs constantly passing by. Building an Island in the middle of the lake sounded ideal. Having done some research on floating islands, this I suggested to Claire might be the best option for her lake. 


Claire was hard at work, checking out floating island manufacturers, the local council rangers and other parties trying to get things done. She has done a fantastic job getting the local council on board, and people involved in the project. I was sure that providing the swans with a safe platform of vegetation well away from the banks, dogs and fishermen, it would be used for nesting next year. 
Today I received an email from Claire with the following photos. 



The funding will pay for the island and the local council have agreed to maintain it in the future.



The Council rangers installed and anchored the island with a growing medium spread over. Prior to nesting next year I have suggested that they should spread several inches of straw over the island, and leave it for the swans to do the rest. 




Claire said the swans were watching the installation from a distance last week, and a few days later one of their group members spotted the swans sitting on the island ! 



She is delighted with the success, and so am I. Her compassion and commitment to fundraising and the project is inspiring, extract from Claire's email to me this morning -

"Thank you once again for your time, knowledge and advice, it really was invaluable and very very much appreciated."  

It's nice to know that Nairn Swans island inspired others. I can hardly wait until next spring to see Claire's Swan project triumph !