Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Training and Education

The Nights are drawing in and the Cygnets departure day draws ever closer. They are flying at some point every day now, and today from the links I saw 6 of them flying in a large circle with the pen coaching them, landing in quite choppy water too. Earlier in the day 2 of the cygnets were doing a courting style display with the hackles up, the Cob was quickly on the scene to put a stop to it. He then gave the whole group a lesson in etiquette with deep grunts and the whole family joined in the conflab ! After that they all had a bath with much flapping and splashing around.

Based on last year the education and training the cob and pen give the cygnets at this time, indicates that they will probably be gone within a week or so.

I find it fascinating to watch them gathering, and carefully listening and watching the parents, learning the skills and etiquette needed to successfully integrate with other swan flocks.

Nature is amazing !

Saturday, 26 September 2009

We Have Lift Off !

As I suspected the cygnets are in training for the big day, I was very fortunate to see them having a practice flight in the river today. The conditions were almost perfect, a strong breeze blowing down river, neap tides and the incentive to re - unite with the parents. As I watched from the Bailey bridge, 6 of the cygnets were near the end of the pier and the cob and pen were on their way to the harbour. When they began to disappear from the cygnets view that was moment they decided to rejoin them. They raised their wings and started to run, with a wingspan around 6 feet the UK's largest flying birds take off !

The sequence of photo's tells all !

Those kids watching on the pier wont forget what a sight that was !

Splashdown !
It made my day !

Keep an eye out for practice flights around the town with Mum over the coming week.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Sonny Copies the Cob

I saw further proof today that Sonny is well and truly on his own, and that his mother has either been killed or abandoned him .
He does tend to hang about the same spots but has not integrated into the other seagull nursery areas, I wish he would and maybe learn what seagulls have to learn !

I watched him today when the Swans were around, he watched as the cob started to preen himself, then Sonny started to copy him - surrogate big Mum figure I reckon ! (Check the sequence of 3 photo's.)
I just hope he keeps his distance from the swans, as yet he has little fear and sense, and they could injure him very easily.

I was told that the Pen and cygnets were along the shore in front of the swimming baths yesterday, looks like the flight training has started !

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Changed Times

Still waiting on the Cygnets maiden flights, I suspect they have already had a few short lessons and I haven't been around to see them. With neap tides over the next week maybe they will chance a few flights up and down the river, although any high winds will curtail the chances.

I see the goosanders back in the river, and wonder if the change in the riverbed will make a change in the species visiting the place, we'll just have to wait and see. It's so shallow all over the place that the herons will be spoilt for choice fishing spots !

Hard to believe that just 4 and half months ago the cygnets were still in their shells ! See enclosed clip when they were less than a week old !

Now check out this clip 4 months later having a grass feed, just listen to them !

Monday, 21 September 2009

Sonny Soars

Sonny is still on the go down by the river. Today I saw him take off from the water which I worried he was unable to do. I think the metacam is helping a lot and reducing the pain in his foot. He gave me the chance to take a few shots of him flying and then he landed gingerly on the island. He still spends most of the time on his own which is sad, it would be nice if he would go with the other young gulls especially at dusk.
He is looking pretty good and I hope his chances of reaching maturity have improved.

Later in the afternoon he was sitting on his hunkers near the harbour toilets, sensibly keeping out of the blustery winds. I took a short video of him, still limping a bit but enjoying the crabstick and you can see he is looking quite good !

Not so Mute

The Cygnets are fast reaching the maturity point of flight and departure. Today I noticed them arching their wings, from previous experience this is the prelude to the final weeks before leaving the river. They are looking very healthy, and I had a brief chat and head nodding session with them this morning, at one point they all joined in and I captured a bit on video.

They had a good preening session today and look every bit like fully grown swans.

They are known as Mute swans, but they have quite a few snorts grunts and calls at their disposal when required!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Sonny is still around and taking his meds, he is flying about the river area and no longer gets trapped by the high tides. I am managing to see him at least once a day to give him the metacam. Today he sought me out and joined Jemima the mallard for his metacam and crabsticks (see video). What a difference from what he was like a month ago!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


I was overjoyed to see Sonny this morning, down at the very spot where I found him 3 weeks ago ! I have been keeping an eye out ever since he left my garden, wondering if he managed to fly away safely. He was paddling around with the Swans and other gulls and ducks, when he saw me he came paddling over, I had none of his food or medicine with me so I fed the Swans and headed home for some wafer thin ham laced with the metacam . He scoffed it and some fish sticks as well ! He then had a bath and a good preen just like he did when in my garden. He is still limping but uses his wings for balance. He was with 2 other gulls which might well be his kin.

It really gladdened my heart to see him, and in a lot better condition than when I first found him. I will continue to give him his daily metacam whilst he is on the river, this should help while he adjusts his ability to get around. Cost me £15 anyway and would hate to waste it !

Seeing him just made my day !

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


This morning was calm and ideal for spotting the Dolphins fishing along the shore from the Baths to the river. I can never get a good photo because they only show briefly and you can never anticipate when or where they jump out of the water. The Swans were also beachcombing for any seaweed that they could find along the shoreline.
I was keeping an eye out for Sonny the seagull but no sign of him.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Sayonara Sonny

After 3 weeks it appears that Sonny felt well enough to take off today. He disappeared around 2.30 this afternoon about half an hour after I gave him his metacam. He has certainly been showing increasing signs of restlessness and jumping about, obviously wanting to fly away. The call of the wild !

I only hope that the 3 weeks treatment has been enough to give him a good chance of survival, he looks pretty healthy and has started to balance more on his good leg, only using his bad leg when he has to. I think he knows he has to balance with the good leg centred under his body weight.
I took a pic of him this morning and you can see that he is not putting weight on the right leg.
Also took a pic of him and millie, together yesterday in the garden.
I'm missing him already !

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Sonny Flies!

After taking advice and another visit to the Vet, Sonny was prescribed anti inflamatory metacam for his swollen arthritic joint. It appears that he might have to live with a bad leg for the rest of his days. He has been reluctant to fly because of the pain in the foot joint when moving or landing . The idea of the metacam is to remove / or reduce the pain element long enough for him to learn to fly and cope with the arthritic leg! Thinking a few days of recuperation and he could return to the wild now seems a long way off, looks like I will have to treat him for some weeks the way the Vet was talking. He is on 2 doses of antibiotics a day and 1 of metacam.

The good thing is that the metacam seems to be working, this morning he decided to stretch his wings and flew out of the garden across the road and round behind a neighbours house. So we know he can fly! He is eating well and preening himself and looks in pretty good nick. I have rigged up a small bath for him in the garden so I dont have to stress him by catching him and taking him indoors for a bath. He also pecked me twice yesterday drawing blood, so he is acting like a wild bird in that sense !

I hope he sticks around long enough to treat the arthritic joint and give him a chance of survival in the wild.

Meanwhile the Swans are exactly 4 months old today and looking good too. Visitors are still amazed at seeing so many cygnets in the one family, and they are still the most photogenic thing in the river. The river has changed dramatically after the flood, with thousands of tons of shingle having moved all the way throughout the river.

The Swans are constantly searching for food from any source, and the cob has taken to eating the bladder type seaweed hanging from the harbour walls. I saw them about 50 metres from the end of the pier picking at the meagre amount of washed up weed .

I witnessed one of the finest sunsets this year on friday night, it was spectacular !

Friday, 11 September 2009

Happy Birthday Millie !

My Beautiful natured Millie is 10 today, so I thought I would let you all see some of her cute pics I've taken over the years. I got her just before the Millennium and called her Millie to remind me of her age ! She has been a great companion and given me so much joy and affection over the last decade. A reminder that good things can also happen on 9/11. She still plays like a puppy at home and her best toy believe it or not, is 2 plastic bottles tied with a piece of string ! As long as i'm pulling on one of them she is as happy as the day is long! I think all the dog owners will appreciate and understand these pics.