Friday, 31 July 2009

Grass feed & Bathtime

The Cygnets now 12 weeks old enjoying a grass feed. They also enjoy thinly sliced carrot about a millimetre thick, as well as wholemeal, granary, and seeded batch. River weed is beginning to grow back after being washed out by the big spate, lets hope the weather stays fine for a while yet! The cygnets are half grown now and the Pen should be flying again next week after growing her new flight feathers, the cob will start shedding his shortly.

The Pen will be teaching them to fly in September, prior to them leaving in October.

Tourists can be heard enjoying the cygnets having a bath earlier today!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Swan Safety

Update today Thursday 30th July : Sam seen around the jubilee bridge and then away up Broadhill unsupervised again ! This is the 4th time I have met the dog on it's own in recent weeks! Lovely dog, but where's the owner ?

In addition to fish hooks and line, many other things are also a threat to Swans, the ingestion of lead shot and attacks by predators like dogs, foxes and mink.

Lead shot is used much less nowadays and this has helped the safety of swans.

Carelessness on the part of some people like leaving fishing line laying around, such as the birds nest of fishing nylon I found on the pier today.
Fortunately we don't have a fox problem on our part of the river, but I believe the Swans at Brodie keep going missing and they do have a lot of foxes over there.

A recent change in our swans fortunes has caused a bit of a shortage of weed, the swans main food supply. This happened because of the big River spate last week which washed much of the weed out to sea, the river was also dredged which didn't help either. Even the seaweed that used to be available close to shore has disappeared with the sandbars. This means the Swans are on the lookout for benefactors willing to hand out food, and with 8 of them growing fast this is at a premium.

All the Swans are vulnerable just now because they cant fly, and the cygnets particularly so because they have yet to experience fear and danger.

For this reason I would ask people not to put them at risk from dog attack and feed them when they are in the water. They can move quickly in the water and the cob can takeoff and fly within a yard or two to defend the young if needed.

On land Swans are clumsy and slow, and also gulls can get to the food quicker than them.

Last week I saw a dog about to cross the moat to get at the cygnets, luckily I knew the dogs name and shouted to it, this allowed the cygnets and swans time to stand up and get mobile, and the dog then changed direction. I hope that Sam's owner stops the dog from running around the town unsupervised.

PS. If you like my Blog, please pass the word and my site around your friends !

Sunday, 26 July 2009

For Ducks sake

More bad news about our blonde duck that was nesting near Merryton bridge. This morning I spoke to a Mr Mackintosh who witnessed a Hoodie crow taking an egg from her nest this morning.

I think our blonde duck who has already lost all 16 of her first ducklings has finally given up in the face of the hoodie onslaught.
The hoodies having eaten all this years ducklings are now targetting the nests, something will have to be done I reckon.
To cap it all I saw a man feeding the hoodies, gulls and ducks together this evening, for ducks sake will they ever learn!

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Costa del Moray

The injured cygnet still has a swollen right cheek but is otherwise fine, and according to the experts I consulted, medication is not usually given unless the hook had been in for days or weeks. I shall keep a watchful eye on it anyway.

More rain in the hills and high tide brought the seal into the river on the hunt for fresh salmon. Tourists were out and about and taking lots of video and snaps of the Swans. I spoke to one family from Spain and asked if they liked our weather, surprisingly they said thats why they came here, because Spain is too hot and dusty !

They were entranced by the cygnets and took quite a bit of video of them enjoying the grass feeding. So there you are folks Nairn's the place to appreciate, Costa del Moray rather than Costa del Sol.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Mid-Summer Madness

Today was a good day on the river, the Swans are looking good and the injured cygnet is recovering well. Earlier today I chatted to people from Portugal, Canada and other holidaymakers from different parts of the UK. They were admiring the river scene, the Swans and ducks, and saying how lovely it all looked.

This evening that all changed dramatically when 4 canoeists started grinding their way up the river , chasing every single bit of wildlife away!

I was fuming at the thoughtlessness for the wildlife, particularly since I asked the leader of the group earlier down by the tail end of the creek how far they were going up river? I explained not to go past the island, that some ducks were still nesting just beyond the island close to the bank, and that there were lots of birds close by.

He said they were only going "up a little ways."

After returning from the harbour 20 minutes later, I find the 4 of them in a few inches of water and one canoe only a few feet from the ducks nest near the merryton bridge !

This is the same duck that lost 16 ducklings earlier in the year.

The 40 or so ducks that were feeding in the creek area had all been scared away.

Not a single bird between the bailey and merryton bridges to be seen, for the sake of 4 canoes using poles to propel themselves over a few inches of water.

I am pretty sure the new access to the countryside act, states that disturbance to wildlife has to be avoided, these people had no interest in that, the exercise was obviously how to pole their way over shallow water.

I hope the Nairn River Community Council makes a protest, and stops any further distubance to our wildlife and major tourist attraction. I'm sure the Nairn Angling Association will not be pleased in the middle of the salmon run to have this lot disturbing the creek either.
Why did'nt they use the river last week when there was a raging spate ?

Written on the side of the canoes was MAD RIVER CANOE , how Apt !

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Nairnshire Seagull Debate

Our local Newspaper has again raised the contentious issue of what to do about the Seagull problem ?

Perhaps it would be better to re phrase that and say, what to do about the people problem ?

I have lived in the Town since 2002 and happen to live in a flat roofed house as well. One of the first things that struck me when I walked along the links and looked towards fishertown and above was the similarity to a rocky escarpment, ideal for nesting seabirds. I imagined why it might be so appealing to seagulls and tried to reason it out. The obvious of course is near the coastline and therefore food supply, mussels crabs sand eels etc. The prevailing winds during summer from the sea, ideal for fledgling gulls learning to fly, especially from a rocky escarpment, ie, the houses of Nairn. The fact that we dwell inside this rocky escarpment is an added bonus to the seagulls because of our habit of dropping morsels all over the place.

The town planners and builders too are responsible for allowing the proliferation of flat roofed buildings, extentions, dormers etc. No thought is ever given to what impact this might have on the seagull population.

The first 6 years on my flat roofed house I had one pair of nesting gulls , a neighbour tried to solve the gull problem by removing all the nests in our street. Within 3 or 4 days the gulls had replaced them all .

Having been around for probably millions of years before we arrived, the mis used saying of "Bird brain" does not really fit with my estimation of seagull intelligence.

This year I have 2 nests on my roof which is highly unusual because the resident pair never tolerated sharing my roof in the past. The same thing has happened on the adjacent garage roof.

I have also seen more territorial fights this year than I have ever seen before. All this points to a proliferation of the species, a shortage of nesting sites, and increased aggression to obtain their right to nest and reproduce. This has a knock on effect because they need more food for more young to feed and have to be more aggressive to defend their young too.

In addition to allowing the building of flat roofs, we have litter bins all over the town which are fairly easily accessed by the gulls and crows, bins are not emptied often enough and allowed to blow over when there's high winds. We have a throwaway society, and a generation that has no regard for any kind of authority which includes the the older generation and the law in general.

Passing laws are only of any use if they are enforced. As things stand the town has all kinds of signs from no drinking in public places to no feeding the gulls down at the harbour, speed limits in fishertown and elsewhere all these things ignored on a daily basis with no apparent enforcement.

In the past few days I had 4 teenagers pass by my house and drop a polystyrene takeaway container with some food and a plastic fork as well. I called to them to pick it up and they ignored me and walked off saying there was no bin ! Within seconds a seagull pounced on the remains in the carton. The following day 2 young men eating fish and chips crossing the merryton bridge started throwing chips to the gulls for a bit of entertainment.

We have to ask ourselves why do people really get so worked up about gulls ? The mess , the noise, the aggression? Not exactly a million miles from the yobs on a summers night, so who really has the bird brain ?

On the continent some of the countrys streets are so clean you could eat a meal from them.

It was noticable to me after the deluge of last week that the towns streets were the cleanest I have ever seen them!

Lots of things could be done to alleviate the percieved seagull problem, stop building and providing flat roofed areas, keep the streets clean and free from litter, have bird proof bins, educate people not to feed them within the town. Have an appropriate council team of licenced egg piercers/oilers. Educate children and enforce the law where appropriate.

I cannot see a law banning the feeding of all birds being accepted by the general population. I would say it would be unenforceable anyway. I for one would not accept that I could'nt feed my garden visitors, especially through the long 6 month winters that we have. Not to mention my beloved Swans and Ducks !

I have no problem with gulls, and the only reason they occasionally take young ducklings is because some people create a feeding frenzy either intentionally or through ignorance when the gulls take anything thats floating on the surface.

The birds are masters of the air, and we should keep our feet and common sense firmly on the ground and look up in wonder and appreciation of the beauty and joy that birds provide.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Cygnet Saved !

Thanks to a concerned and alert Nairn resident, one of the 8 Cygnets in the harbour was saved from a possible unpleasant death. My Thanks to Iona Sutherland for phoning me this evening about a distressed Cygnet that was tangled up in fishing line in the harbour.

When I arrived on the scene the cygnet was struggling to free itself from the lethal handline that was tangled round it's feet and neck, to make matters worse there was a fishing hook through its cheek as well. The parents were in obvious distress and the cob was trying to free the line from under the water.

After climbing down to the pontoon I was able to entice them close with their favourite wholemeal bread. My first attempt to grab the cygnet failed, and I thought I had blown their trust in me. Fortunately they came close enough for me to get a second chance, and I managed to grab the stricken cygnet.

The Cob could easily have attacked me but surprisingly he did'nt, I like to think he knew I was trying to help.

Removing the hook was my main concern, and luckily it was visible and through the soft cheek area of the mouth. Once removed, I untangled the line from around its legs and back and returned it quickly to the water.

The remainder of the line was still in the water and I retrieved as much as I could, the end was still stuck either on someone's boat or outboard or on the pontoon somewhere.

The released cygnet was naturally very wary about joining the others and coming close even for food, after several minutes it regained the confidence to join in the feeding.

I was worried about destroying the trust that I have built up over the years, but thankfully my fears were unfounded and I left them happily safely together.

My thanks again to Iona for giving me a call and helping to save one of our beautiful Nairn Cygnets.

I would ask all parents to warn their children of the dangers of fishing hooks and line to wildlife, and to withdraw fishing line from the water if the Swans are close by.

Swans are curious by nature and are always searching for food in any case.

Enclosed pics of the lethal handline and Swan family in the harbour.
CYGNET UPDATE. After a close inspection today I was pleased to see the injured Cygnet alert and eating but with a slightly swollen right cheek, hardly surprising after a fish hook through it.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

NOBBS Allotments

Due to the diminishing flora in and around Nairn, the Nairnshire Official Balsam Bumblebee Society (NOBBS), are rumoured to be seeking all available Allotment land for their use.

It has been noticed that the spread of Himalayan Balsam has been insufficient to sustain a healthy wild bee population, and the NOBBS would like these important species of pollinators all the help they can get.

With this in mind they are hoping the region and local politicians will allocate all available plots of land for the growth of Himalayan Balsam.

A spokesman for the NOBBS said " Due to the height and fragility of the beautiful Balsam, we will probably have to grow shelter belts of Japanese Knotweed around the balsam as a windbreak". " They are strong stemmed and the kids can use the stems as peashooters like we did when we were kids."

We wish the NOBBS well, after all without natural pollinators what's the use of allotments ?

Friday, 17 July 2009

Glasgow Fair ?

Last nights deluge reminded me of the monsoon rains I witnessed in the far east many years ago.

At about 11.30 pm the streets of Nairn were flowing, with the occasional flash of lightning and peel of thunder it was exceptional.

According to climate scientists this will become commonplace, with localised floods and other exceptional weather conditions.

The good news is that the high tides are next week, otherwise fishertown would have had major problems today. Other side effects are the streets of Nairn are the cleanest I've seen them for years!

The tons of large trees floating down will have shifted huge amounts of gravel and silt which will no doubt have an effect on the river mouth.

Even the river wildlife will be feeling the adverse effects of the flood, most of the Swans food supply in the form of river weed will have been washed away ! The ducks access to normal feeding areas will also be flooded, hard to believe but too much water even for ducks !

The Swans and Cygnets will hopefully stay in the harbour while the Spate runs it's course, the Cygnets and Pen cannot fly, so safest place is the harbour for the moment.

The forecast for the area tomorrow is even more rain , ah well with Glasgow fair underway whats new ?

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

At the Beach

The Cygnets had a grand day out catching the rays on the beach, watched over by a very alert Mum and Dad !

What's this , A swan doing the goose step !

Friday, 10 July 2009

Magic Moments

Some Magic moments for me over the past few months. This photo of the Pen falling asleep just 3 feet away from me, completely relaxed in my presence, I felt very privileged.

Then her trying to get off the ice in the harbour, very amusing.

The next was a sequence of shots pre - mating, very beautiful and very Swan lake indeed.

The pair then trying to get rid of the intruder cob that was trying to take over their patch!

I was fortunate enough to see them escort the intruder away towards the old bar.

Was also very lucky to get an excellent flight shot of a young swan that visited the river.

The Cob staring at the Cormorant drying off on the pontoon.

Just a few of the natural images that give me a buzz !

What a rate of growth in a month !

Thursday, 9 July 2009

By yon Bonnie brae ?

Looks like the brae is about to open for business. I bet the shop owners will be glad, and sad that the glorious weather has turned into the usual Scottish summer !

Surely we'll get some more good weather again soon.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Welcome relief for the Angling fraternity, at long last a summer Spate!
Enclosed pic of Salmon under the merryton bridge a few years back, the anglers will be hoping for more of the same up the river tomorrow!

The river has been extremely low for weeks due to the Costa Del Moray weather we are sometimes blessed with. It might suit the sun worshipers, but the anglers are keen to wet a line with the grilse surely running now?
As it happens, I saw a grilse turning at the entrance to the harbour last night, so that's a good sign.

The river has been full of weed and virtually unfishable, this spate should shift some weed at least.

The Swans have had an abundant food supply of weed, which is just as well with all those cygnets to feed. They are growing at a rate of knots and are starting to show their individuality, the parents are now letting them stray slightly from the tight formation they have held since hatching. Enclosed photo of them feeding on weed at the harbour entrance beginning of June.

Also yesterday where they were above the road bridge looking for pastures new!

Sunday, 5 July 2009

4th of July

Lovely to hear the skirl o' the pipes permeating through the Town yesterday the 4th July.

Beautiful weather, and am sure any towrist's would have been impressed with the fine medley from Nairn and District Pipe Band.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Camera or Binoculars ?

I suppose if I was a true twitcher I would be walking around the river with a pair of binoculars. Savouring the sights for my eyes only, and getting an image which disappears as soon as I drop the binoculars.

I have to say I prefer the big picture with a modern digital camera, I might not get the instant satisfaction clarity and resolution, but i can capture the image forever. In addition when i put the shots onto the Blog they are here to be savoured by all.
With the use of Shank's Pony and the digital camera, the following images were taken on my usual Nairn rounds.

And finally the humour caption. "I told you, I have a headache!"

Now, aren't you all happy that I don't use Binoculars ?