Saturday, 29 August 2009

Sonny the Seagull (next generation)

I think I will have to rename son of salty "Sonny ", as he is likely to be with me for at least another week ! I made an appointment with the Vet at noon today because I felt his bad leg was getting worse, he was even more loathe to put his weight on it this morning. Even when he sits he tries to keep the pressure off it. (see pic above)
Having found a suitable sized box I carted him off and consulted a nice lady Vet called Clare at Moray coast vets on St Ninian road. Clare scrutinised Sonny's right leg whilst he bit my collar as though he was having a bullet removed - silly boy ! Sure enough he has an infected leg joint and will need antibiotics for the next 5 days, it is curable because the infection has'nt penetrated his whole leg at this early stage. I was given liquid antibiotics and a syringe to measure the dose, just had to devise a way of getting it into him twice a day.
I was pleasantly surprised that Clare gave her consultation for free and was only charged for the antibiotics , many thanks Clare!

On arriving home I gave him a salty bath for his sore foot, (see video)whilst I thought of a cunning plan to get the antibiotics into him! Catching and injecting worms with liquid antibiotics would have been messy and wasteful, trying to put it down Sonny's throat with one hand trying to hold him still with beak open was out of the question too. His Achille's heel (not the infected one) was wafer thin ham neatly folded and laced with liquid antibiotics, Ahaa ! He scoffed it without batting a beady eye at me !
Just have to repeat the process twice a day for the next 5 days, and hopefully he will be as right as rain and ready for a test flight from the garage roof, we'll see.

Friday, 28 August 2009

The cygnet that was hooked last month still has quite a swelling on it's right cheek, it's bill is also distorted near the site of the hook injury. Since it was so young and still forming I suppose the scarring damage was enough to cause it. All the tugging and pulling when it was struggling to get free, combined with the lead weight and fixed line must have caused more damage than I could see at the time.
Otherwise the family are looking in great shape and the cygnets are getting like stroppy kids, pushing their weight around ! Time for flying lessons soon, that should use up some of the excess energy ! ( see video )

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Son of Salty part4

I tried putting Salty on the garage roof , in the hope that he would fly back down. He was only up there two minutes when another local adult flew down to chase him off ! He was scared and ran to the edge of the roof but still didn't fly off. I notice he has a slight gait and am wondering if he had a bad landing when learning to fly, I think he is still too young and unwilling to risk flying at the moment. Anyway I had to get the ladder to carry him down !
I have had a close look at his right leg because he is reluctant to put his full weight on it and this is what causes the walking gait. It is slightly swollen at the foot joint, this would explain him sitting a lot and being reluctant to fly. I will contact a vet and see if anything can be done.

He had another bath this afternoon and then spent an hour preening himself in the garden with Millie close by, wanting to play ball. (See video below)

He also has bird lice which I noticed after picking him up for his bath, so a quick trip to the vet and I got some drops that should hopefully kill them off! No wonder he was nearly drowning when I found him, no food for perhaps 10 days, weak, unable to fly to escape the incoming tide, and body infested with lice which would have depleted him farther ! I have to say his toilet training is non existent..... he is awful,- but I like him - as Dick Emery used to say !

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Son of Salty- Part3

Son of Salty had a wander around and another bath, so I got a short video this time. (See below)

Seems to be doing well but shows no signs of wanting to fly, likes to just sit down and survey the scene which bothers me a little. I think perhaps it is just too young, but I might put it on the garage roof and see if it will fly from there. It had some more worms and caught the rays with Millie in the garden ! Later he retired to the outhouse and his 2 seater !

Gull Letter to Ward Forum

The Ward Forum Meeting will be held in the Courthouse tomorrow evening. In anticipation of this I have emailed a letter last sunday to Louise Clark, and Provost Liz Mac donald, and Cllr, Graham Marsden. The letter contains my views on the Seagull problem as I see it. Coincidentally todays Nairnshire contains a letter which reflects much of what I feel myself regarding the Seagulls subject !

I dont know if my letter will be taken into account during the forum, so I will publish it here:

Submission To The Ward Forum Regarding Seagulls.
Recognition that Nairn is a coastal Town and Seagulls as an integral and natural part of the Town should first be acknowledged by all.
The problem lies in management of our own habits rather than trying to manage the Seagulls habits. Having observed Seagulls and their habits quite closely for the last 6 years many things have become very obvious to me. First of all that the they are intelligent and make use of our habits, they make use of our provision of Flat roofed areas, and our convenience fast foods, and our habit of dropping tasty morsels. Then of course they take advantage of our inability to clear up our litter containing so many tasty morsels!
The time of year most problems arise is when they are feeding young chicks about 3 months from June to August. If left to their own natural state they would frequent the shoreline and river and return with crabs, eels and other sea foods.
To mitigate the effects that gulls have on our lives we can do the following:

The Council must lead by example and ensure that enough birdproof litter bins are located throughout the Town, these should be of sufficient capacity to handle a weeks litter easily, otherwise they will have to be emptied more often.
I notice that June to August is coincidentally the very time every year when the bins are overflowing, ideally suited to the rearing of seagull chicks!
Ensure that sufficient Council cleaning staff are employed to do the job of keeping the Town clean.
Educate the public not to openly feed gulls by way of appropriate large sized signs in key locations throughout the town.
All Council properties should be kept free of seagull nests, or otherwise the eggs treated.

In conclusion, Short of a mass extermination program we must accept the natural existence of gulls in the Town but do our utmost to change our own poor management and habits. If left in peace and un-fed we can happily co-exist with our feathered friends.

Yours, Joe Telfer

The following photo's should prove my point about the overflowing bins. These were taken on sunday the 23rd august, three days before the bins were due to be emptied.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Son of Salty part 2

After some TLC and a couple of days dry, warm and fed, son of salty seems to be well on it's way to full health again. This mornings breakfast consisted of sardines in sunflower oil, followed by afternoon live worms wood lice , earwigs and the occasional garage spider.
This was very encouraging because it showed he was able to catch small items himself which bodes well when it's time for him to go.
I thought maybe he could do with a wash from the dusty garage, so ran a bath tub for him this sunny afternoon. He was overjoyed and could hardly contain his enthusiasm when I put him into about 4 inches of water.
I was surprised at the amount of dirt that came off him too !

After 10 minutes he decided that was enough and wanted out, so I took him into the sunny garden where he promptly dry preened himself, excuse the pun !
He is currently looking like a spruce goose and is sleeping blissfully on the grass.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Son of Salty ?

With the forthcoming ward forum meeting coming up, I think the Son of Salty wants to influence the debate. Over the past 10 days or so I noticed a lone seagull sitting close to the river wall day after day and being unattended by any adult bird. Two days ago when the high tides started I noticed it stuck at the edge of the riverbank flapping it's wings feebly trying to get onto the dry grass, it was soaked through and unable to escape the water. I could not resist the urge to help it out and pulled it free from the grass and weeds that were preventing it's escape.

It was in a sorry state and resembled a young vulture, and it was trembling with cold and very weak. I was kindly given some paper towels by a harbour street resident and started to dry it off, it was too weak even to peck me! It appeared to have no water resistance on the feathers at all. After I used all the paper towels I gave it some food, and it was starving . I put it over the wall at the seamans hall so it would'nt get attacked by any dogs, and went home hoping it would rally round by the afternoon.
I think either the parent has been killed or it has been abandoned.

Later that day I went back down to see if it survived and it appeared a lot perkier and drier and was flapping it's wings. I put it back down onto the river grass verge hoping it would join the other young gulls and maybe take off. Yesterday I did not see it and thought it may have revived enough to join others. Today was a repeat of two days ago and it was again caught by the high tide, sodden and weak and struggling at the side of the river bank. I know nature is cruel and I considered just walking away, but when I saw the feeble flapping I had to do something !

I got wet feet yet again and took it home this afternoon, I dried it off again, gave it some grub and let it have a good drink from millie's water bowl, she didn't mind a bit. I shall keep it for a few days until these exceptional high tides recede and hopefully it will have bulit up enough strength to survive. Remember folks this is an exceptional circumstance so dont go accusing me of feeding the gulls etc !!

Update at 10pm: After 8 hours our gallant young gull has finally dried out and had a sleep. It has eaten some mackerel and fresh pollock and started to preen itself, I am hoping it will waterproof it's feathers and then I can return it to the river. (see short video.)

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Breathe Easy

Congratulations to Highland Regional Council for rejecting the incinerator application for Invergordon.

If this had gone ahead it might well have had an adverse effect on Nairn as a holiday resort in the future. Any toxic emissions would have drifted our way during the summer time when prevailing winds are from a northerly direction.
As it is I'm pretty sure I smell burning plastics from time to time, coming from the north. People like myself who have breathing problems, will welcome the breath of fresh air from Highland Regions sensible decision.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Gullible hooked

I saw a very disturbing sight yesterday down near the Bailey bridge. A poor Young gull landed close to the Swans with a fishing lure hanging from it's beak. It tried several times to shake it off but it was hooked into the nostril hole of the upper beak. How it got there is a mystery but it was probably searching for food and being young would be curious at anything resembling a fish.

I would have removed it, had it been possible to catch it. There was no fishing line attached so I presume it picked it up near the end of the pier. After a while it took off and flew up harbour street , probably back to it's nesting area to see if mum could end it's dilemma.

After the Cygnets hooked experience I think perhaps it's time for a few signs being placed on the end of both piers and one on the harbour wall near the smoke shed. Too often I have picked up line, hooks and weights at these locations. Clearly some people have little or no regard for the wildlife and will have to be reminded not to leave fishing tackle lying around !

If our councillors will not or cannot stop fishing from these locations then I will write to Liz and graham our local councillors with a request to have simple signs put up, PLEASE DO NOT DISCARD ANY FISHING TACKLE AND WITHDRAW LINES FROM WATER WHEN WILDLIFE IS CLOSE BY. This should make people aware that we value our wildlife and it has priority.

It might also be worth imposing the use of BARBLESS hooks only from these locations ?

I know that elsewhere in the interests of catch and return that barbless hooks are being used.

Perhaps the poor gull with lure would have been able to discard it, if it was a barbless treble hook?

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Summer Scene

Was buzzed by a beautiful Dragon fly today and this reminded me of a pic I took last summer. There seems to be a favoured spot around the jubilee bridge where they fly amongst the trees. I was just about cross eyed trying to keep an eye on the one last summer, and managed to do just that until it landed on a tree. I couldn't take my eyes off it whilst I got the camera out, would have been impossible to see it again. Walked right up to it before I changed the settings on the camera, fortunately it stayed put long enough to take the shot. The wild cherries looked really superb this year too, as well as some of the Town's floral displays.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Picture of Health

Games day once more, and the weather forecast experts thankfully got it wrong again !

I took some video of the pipe band march past, but it's too long to upload here. Just have to settle for more pics of the Swans that appear to be the picture of health. The cygnets are getting boistrous and pecking at each others necks, sure sign that independence is not far away. Before that the Cob and Pen will teach them some social skills as well as how to fly and where to land safely.
Might just be coincidence, but the cygnet that I took the hook out of always seems to be at the front when they come to meet me, I wonder ?

Friday, 14 August 2009

Pre-flight exercises

At exactly 3 months old, the Cygnets are being encouraged by the Pen to exercise their wings and strengthen their muscles. Today I watched her put them through their paces and spurting around at an amazing rate of knots. Both the adults encouraged the cygnets to propel themselves along as though to take off and extend their wings at the same time.

The flight feathers are not quite up to the job of flight, but the exercises are preparing them for Septembers critical flying lessons.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Happy Birthday Island

It was 2 years ago this week that the Swans island was built, and can now be seen as fully naturalised. Most of the growth has occured naturally although I did plant local reeds, a Rowan and 2 Birch trees. Last year it had not fully developed and was almost overwhelmed with the high tide during March, this prompted me to raise the nesting area another 7 inches or so, using earth, growbag material and 2 layers of turf.

The Swans have done us proud by producing a fabulous 9 cygnets this year, and many visitors have remarked on what a huge brood!

I would like to Thank all the people who have kept an eye out for the Swans, all those who generously gave me donations towards the construction costs, and all those who wished me well with the project. All the Anglers who have taken the Swans and wildlife into account, and the youth of Nairn who have shown an interest and sometimes pride in the river wildlife, they too deserve praise for allowing the Swans to live their lives unmolested.

I apologise to those people I have annoyed and pestered by my sometimes over zealous passion for the Swans establishment on the river.

I know by the comments and good wishes of many that in the main, Nairn residents are indeed proud of their River and the wildlife and would like to see this civic pride extended to cover all of the Town.

The Cygnets are thriving and 3 months old now , their flying lessons should start in about 3 weeks time, that should be quite a sight too!

Back to the future, I hope !

The spewing sewage drain has halted and the river seems to have returned to normal. Lets hope Scottish water can keep on top of the unending fat problem, and increase it's maintenance of the pipe network. The increase in sandy beach area and visitors, plus the increase in housing means that pollution spills must be avoided at all costs. The future of Nairn's environment and tourist trade should be of the highest possible standard.

This mornings photo's showing the Swans feeding on weed, and also a Blackback gull which was pulling at either a fish skin or something from the sewage pipe !

Monday, 10 August 2009

River pollution again LATEST !

Pollution Latest: At 8.30pm I saw Scottish Water employees at the offending drain which was
still running but starting to reduce. I spoke to Mr Barron who informed me that they will clean the area in the morning when it dries out a bit.
Scottish water were apparently contacted by SEPA about 1.30 today and an inspection found that a blockage (wait for it) caused by FAT, was the culprit yet again! The problem could not be fixed earlier today because the access manhole is conveniently located in the middle of the A96 at the lochloy junction, and the Traffic disruption would be too great!
I noticed that when they used a rake at the drain outfall it was clogged by lots of wipes and other unmentionables.
If my memory serves me right, FAT was blamed before, caused by Hotels, Restuarants and B& Bs, and Games day over usage! I wonder if the Tilda pilgrimage had anything to do with it this time, maybe none of the lorry pullers went to the toilet for 10 days and all went together when they got back to Nairn? Or maybe somebody disposed of the Tacky plastic Swan down the Loo, whatever the cause I bet it wont be Scottish waters fault!

Pollution Update : The sewerage discharge appears to be increasing from this morning. I phoned SEPA using the national helpline at about 11.30 am, and was told they would send someone local to investigate . I followed this up by emailing photos of the site at 1.30pm to Keith Barron of SEPA who I believe is based at Dingwall.

Maybe Scottish water should be involved since this is probably their pipe ?

There are thousands of small fish in the river just now, so will not do their environment much good !

Once again we have wastewater being discharged into the river from the same pipe that I have reported on 2 previous occasions to SEPA .

I took the enclosed photo's this morning and phoned SEPA at the same time.

The volume of water in the river is so low that any discharge is serious.

This drainpipe is located about 50 metres above the Merryton bridge on the east side close to the river path, it is the same drain that adjacent building workers were tinkering with last year.

There can be no excuse about the weather and heavy rain etc, this was bright sunshine and no rain!

I hope our local councillors and authorities take the matter in hand and get it sorted, we still have holidaymakers on the beaches and wildlife in the river !

Flight Feathers

The Pen has finally grown her new flight feathers and the Cob has lost his. The cygnets too are starting to grow their first flight feathers, and should be getting taught to fly by the Pen in about 3 weeks time. It's still too early to tell how many of the cygnets are male and female, but at this stage it appears at least 5 males out of the 8.

The pic of the cygnet with outstretched wings shows the flight feathers starting to appear.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Friday, 7 August 2009

Anyone for Gullf ?

I picked up two young gulls that were on the road and in my garden last week, and put them back on the roof before they were run over. Whilst doing it I was rewarded by the parents diving and spraying me with droppings. Supposed to be lucky but i'm still waiting, thanks a lot !

However I was amused this past week by the antics of young gulls on the river. They behave like young children learning how to play and manipulate things.

Anything out of the ordinary in the river, they grab and squabble over. The other day it was an orange golf ball, and today a toy van.

It does show you that they will pick up anything in the water, and that would include young Ducklings if there were any!