Monday, 30 November 2009

Sonny Reincarnation ?

UPDATE: I checked the goose this morning and discovered it has a badly broken right wing. It was beyond my ability to fix it so I phoned the SSPCA and they picked it up about 1 pm.
I did tell the inspector that I would be willing to care for it until the spring and would help with the vets costs if it's at all fixable. They will let me know the Vets opinion.

Still thinking about the tragedy of Sonny's demise, I went down to the harbour as usual to feed the Swans this morning. Incredibly, sitting at the bottom of the harbour steps was a pink footed goose with a damaged wing. It has either been shot by one of the cowboys at Findhorn or hit something, which is highly unlikely. Anyway I tried to approach it to see if I could help. It was having none of it and dived into the harbour and swam underwater for some 8 metres before surfacing. ( I did not realise that geese could swim underwater ! )

Anyway it headed into the river for a short while then back into the harbour where it again climbed onto the steps.

I asked Robert, skipper of the Osprey if he could position his boat against the steps to stop it diving into the the harbour again, and I would try and catch it. He carefully positioned his boat against the steps, but as I stooped to pick it up I slipped and it dived into the small gap at the bow of the boat ! At this point I gave up as it headed into the river and downstream.

I wondered if it would return later in the afternoon. On my return about 3.15pm I could see it sitting on the steps again well above the water line, so it must have returned shortly after I left.

I looked around to see how I could catch it this time. I asked one of the boat owners if they had a net but no luck, so I mooched around until I found a makeshift net. I then struck on the idea of using the Swans as a diversion and barrier, and proceeded to set the trap.

Slowly I went down the steps net in hand and the swans edged closer, the Goose was watching warily as we all closed in. I slowly moved the almost invisible netting closer to the front of the goose until it was inches away and then pounced ! The rest is history as they say !

As I walked up the high street goose in hand, I wondered if poor old Sonny was behind the whole thing ! I put the goose in the garage to roost for the night, and will check it's wing in the morning or get it to the Vet or SSPCA. I am hoping it has no broken bones and that it's purely the flight feathers that are damaged, It could certainly swim underwater and seems pretty strong otherwise.

I put some water, sweetcorn and oats beside it, and was surprised to hear it hissing like a Swan, another thing I didn't know !

Pinkfoot geese migrate from Greenland via Iceland to Scotland for the winter, arriving in October.

On a positive note, I heard from the Procurator fiscals office today that no action will be taken over my run in with the (Punters) canoeists. I am glad that common sense has prevailed and that police time and taxpayers money will not be wasted on trivial pursuits !

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Sonny is Dead

They say trouble comes in three's, this past week my central heating was leaking, my computer crashed and was out of action, but worst of all Sonny died today.
After 3 months trying to save Sonny the young seagull, today he finally lost the battle. Over the past week his condition deteriorated and he began to lose interest in his food, he was starting to visit the water bowl more often and drink more. Having stopped the antibiotics 10 days ago I wondered if this was now the down side. I was still giving him the Metacam anti inflammatory which he has been taking for the past couple of months with no apparent side effects. I learned 3 days ago from the Internet that this drug can also affect the kidneys, guilt ridden I stopped giving it to him immediately.

From the start there's no doubt that Sonny was not a well bird, I will never know if he had an inherited illness, been abandoned, or his mother was killed on the road. I was always convinced he was going to make a full recovery, and it looked like he might when he first returned to the river. Watching him trying to integrate with the other young gulls and being rejected and attacked, pained me. I only wish his leg had more time to heal first time round, perhaps he would have survived then.

I realised today that he was labouring and would probably have to be put to sleep, so I made an appointment to see the vet at 4.40 this afternoon. He was drinking copiously from his bowl when I left the house around 2.30pm, Sonny spared me the ordeal, when I returned an hour later he was dead. He may only have been a Seagull, but I will never forget him or the whole experience.

Sonny earlier today.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Swans, Seal, and Salmon for Sonny

The Swans are still mooching around, and I was amused at hookie ( the one that had the hook in) having a nibble at my shoe after I fed them in the harbour. (See video of that and the seal in the river.)

The new Harbour Pontoons are now in place, and I bet the boat owners are already eyeing up who gets what berth !
The Seal continues to fish successfully in the river, and today it ventured above the roadbridge to the head of the Factors pool. Later I saw it again with another fish below the Merryton bridge, and got a little bit of video after it disposed of it. One of these days I will get it actually catching the fish !

I got a bonus Manna from heaven yesterday, in the form of a 12 pound dead salmon ! It was laying ironically enough where Sonny used to sit all the time. It had been pecked a bit around the head and tail but otherwise was intact. I reckon it has been dead for maybe 3 or 4 days, but still fresh enough for Sonny, so I cut up several pounds of steaks and left the rest for the wildlife on the river. Sonny was in his element pecking and swallowing great lumps of salmon, he ate so much he fell forward with the weight of his crop, silly boy! Anyway he continues to progress and is walking without a limp. Claire the Vet told me that the thickened leg joint will be fibrous / scar tissue and is unlikely to disappear for good. I will give him a while longer before putting him on the garage roof for a trial flight.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Salmon Sealed !

The Seal is making full use of the high tides this week to gorge on late running Salmon. I witnessed another kill earlier on tuesday. As usual it was on the far side of the river and even with a zoom not the clarity of shots I would have liked !
The first pic looks like the Seals mouth is open, in fact the lower left side is the tail of the Salmon it has just caught sticking up out of the water !
It only took a few minutes for the Seal to dispose of the fish, and not even the hovering gulls managed to get any. Pics will enlarge.

Having finished the salmon the Seal came closer as if to say "did you get all the pictures ?"

Monday, 16 November 2009

Walking Back to Happiness

See video's below.

Sonny getting out of bed !

After 25 days on antibiotics and lots of TLC and R & R, Sonny seems to be walking at last without a limp. Over the past 3 or 4 days he has been walking normally, even though the foot joint is still swollen. I am hoping his right leg is now strong enough for landing and swimming etc.

He shows no desire to leave my garden, but has jumped up and down a few times flapping his wings as if in preparation for flight. The longer he stays the better for his health, he has plenty of bird company throughout the day to keep him interested.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

River Seal Hunt

The young Harbour Seal moved into the river for a spot of fishing yesterday. It was seen travelling at speed by several people between the Bailey and Merryton bridges. I managed to get a few pics of it in the process of chasing a fish which it caught.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Seal Pup or Otter ?

Just after mid-day having just fed the Swans in the Harbour, the Cob gave a quick warning call which alerted me to the presence of what I reckon was a young Seal pup.

I took a few still shots and then tried to video it, was unable to zoom in for some unknown reason ! (see video )

The water was only a couple of feet deep since the tide was out, there was still a bit of mottling on the back of the seal Pup. It was only about 3 feet long so could easily be mistaken for an otter.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Nairn Harbourmaster

I learned today that one of Fishertown's well known characters Alex Taylor passed away last night.
Alex was the part time Harbourmaster for many years and I understand was in poor health in recent times. He was indeed an old salt, and the sea was very much in his blood. He was not a man of many words and his growling gravelly voice was worse than his bite.
For years he enjoyed lifting his few creels in his small boat, and was one of the old man and the sea characters.
Although we did not always see eye to eye, he did have a soft spot for the Swans and ducks, and considered them harbour residents as much as the boats. I remember he actually gave me a loaf once last year to give to the Swans ! He will be missed by many of the locals who enjoyed a bit of a crack with him.

Monday, 9 November 2009

5k Donation

Today when I looked outside to check on Sonny, I saw a carrier bag sitting just inside my gate.

It contained 5 kilos of Aldi carrots !

On behalf of the Swans I would like to thank the mystery benefactor for the 5k donation !

UPDATE: I can reveal that the mystery 5K benefactor is my friend Mr Tan who happened to see the Bargain Carrots in Aldi's. Many of you will know MR TAN from the the Takeaway in the high street. He can be seen running regularly along the links and round the river. Very apt really, Mr Tan the 5k man !

Maybe someone would like to donate a slicer to save my poor old wrists, the hand slicing into 2 mm slices with a knife is time consuming hard work! (labour of love)

They do enjoy their daily carrot rations and are looking really healthy. ( see video )

Sonny Update

Sonny is making very slow progress, and the swollen Foot joint is still apparent. In saying that, he is walking better but it looks like the swollen joint will be a permanent feature. This wont be a problem providing he learns to compensate when walking or landing. The problem is getting him experienced and mature enough to be able to compensate ! If for instance he starts flying again too soon and injures his leg on landing, this will knock him back to square one again !

At the moment he shows no signs of wanting to leave, although there is nothing stopping him except the 5 star service he is currently getting !

A few days ago he had a great time standing in front of the garden fork whilst I shook it, and he cleaned up the worms that came to the surface.

This morning was pretty cold, when I let him out the garage he headed for his drinking trough which was frozen over. The water bowl in the garage was not, so it's obviously warmer in there than outside.
He is getting too damn picky about his food as well, likes cheese, mince, sardines, pilchards, any kind of fresh fish, worms and raw chicken . Tried him with chappie dog food, bread and ham, not keen on any of them.

I think I'm getting too gullible !!

Anyway, a short vid of him enjoying a bath again, he does tend to get mucky since his toilet habits are poor.

Sunday, 8 November 2009


What a beautiful early winters day, the clear skies, fresh air and peaceful setting overlooking the links and firth. It was 65 years ago earlier this year when hundreds of young men filled the beaches along the links in training for D-Day. As I looked out across the firth today I wondered how many never came back from the liberation of Europe. I happened to have been born that same year and my Mother often joked that I was born during the battle of the bulge, I was her battle of the bulge ! We all owe that generation a debt of gratitude for the life we enjoy today.

My Father was a coal miner during the war, and my Mother did her bit in a foundry making bomb casings. The whole country was geared up one way or another, to fight against a common enemy.

The scale of wars may have changed, but alas we still have them. It is right that we remember the sacrifice of each generation, and all the young men and women who even today are making the ultimate sacrifice.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Six Month Cygnets

In a weeks time the Cygnets will be 6 months old. They are still about and appear to be here for the winter. For those of you who missed out seeing them when they were about 2 weeks old, a short bit of video as a reminder .
Check out the pair on the mum's back !