Saturday, 31 July 2010

Assailant Before the Beak

The Heron excelled himself today catching a flounder that was almost too big for his beak. With patient deft handling he softened it up by continually dropping it, picking it up and turning it over, prodding and poking and crushing it before finally swallowing it vertically.

I got some good shots with my new (secondhand camera).

My Attacker last week will be up before the beak on the 22nd October, he is charged with assault. I hope the judicial system handles him like the Heron handling the fish I saw today.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Harbour Mink

Looks like the family of Mink are going to be a regular feature around the harbour these days. Maybe it's nice and warm with all the burning boats there lately! This one tonight was busy fishing and totally ignored the Swans and Ducks.


I would like to extend my gratitude to all the people who have enquired after my health after the assault, it is much appreciated. My thanks also to those who have helped with the Swans recovery, especially Sue in Swindon with the invaluable medical advice, Moray coast vets and James Campbell in Auldearn for the recent supply of wheat grain which the pen enjoys. The Nairn Police have also done a good job ! My new ebay camera purchase arrived today, so I am back - snap happy as usual. I took a few shots and a little bit of video below of Steven seagull ( I was trying to decide what would be the best name, Steven seagull or George seagull, and opted for the former.) He enjoyed a bath today and the bandage is still holding, for 2 days anyway ! I recommend Chappie dog food for sick seagulls mixed with poultry pellets - he loves them !

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Some Good News

Having my camera destroyed I trawled through ebay yesterday and incrediby came upon one camera identical to the model I lost. It was the final day of the auction and I successfully outbid 15 other bids. The camera is second hand but I am hoping it is in perfect working order.

Meanwhile I dug out my spare camera to take a few shots of a seagull which I was alerted to the other day. The young gull had been run over in a gravel carpark area, resulting in one wing being crushed under the wheels, when I saw the gull it was trailing the wing on the ground but otherwise seemed unscathed. There is nothing more pathetic than a bird with a trailing wing. The neighbours children having seen it asked if I could do something about it ? How could I refuse, so set off to catch and treat it. With my previous experience of sonny and nippers angel wing, I first checked to see if the wing was broken, it appeared it was either dislocated at the joint or wrenched out. I have no idea if this is fixable or not, but I thought if I bandage it back into position as best could then maybe it would survive. After 3 attempts and several pecks later I finally managed to get it hitched up. The aviary as I suspected comes in handy to keep the bird secure . Hopefully given time it will mend, if not, will probably have to call in the sspca for the big sleep.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

For the Record

After a short piece in the local paper The Nairnshire Telegraph regarding my being assaulted. For the record I would like people to know that I was pushed from a high river wall approx 12' into 18" of water and silt. The photo shows the crime scene conditions and approx spot where I was pushed. I hope to find out tomorrow who the assailant was, and what happened in the court on monday.

Camera Kaput !

As I feared my camera (the best I've ever had ), is trashed. I took it from the airing cupboard this morning and powered it on, only to find that the electronics have shorted out, the inside of the lens still had fog on it - so that's it. The model is irreplaceable because Canon have discontinued making it. I suspect the reason is because it is far and away superior to their dozens of other digital cameras, and they would be unable to sell them ! Any digital without an optical viewfinder, to my mind is a waste of money and I wouldn't have one even as a gift. The 6x optical zoom was very good as well, as compact digitals go this was a great camera. The guy who pushed me into the river has deprived all my viewers and the people of Nairn images that have been displayed in the library and museum and entertained many. A 19 year old imbecile as one email to me described him, has probably ruined his life with a criminal record. What a Rambo action to take - sneaking up behind a pensioner and pushing him into the river. Well done Rambo !

Monday, 26 July 2010

New Info on Swan Attack

I was given new information this afternoon by a local eye witness to the swan attack two weeks ago. The local woman was at the opposite side of the river and saw another woman with 2 black labradors walking past the Swans who were resting on the riverbank. One of the dogs jumped down and attacked the swans. The Cob led the dog away by flapping his wings and moving away from the pen and cygnets. The dog gave up chasing the cob and returned to the pen and cygnets, and attacked the pen. The woman jumped down into the river and was screaming at the dog and tried to pull it away from the pen, eventually succeeding and taking it away with the other well behaved lab which sat on the path watching. It appears the woman did all she could to get the dog away from the pen to the point that she was knee deep in the river. The only criticism I have is that she failed to contact anyone and tell them about the injured Swan. The incident happened around 6.15pm on sunday the 11th July.
It does show however that you cant be too careful when passing wildlife if you have dogs in tow !

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Assailant in Custody

I was informed tonight by Nairn Police that a man will appear in court tomorrow after admitting pushing me into the river. I must congratulate Nairn Police on their very efficient police work and quick resolution of this crime. I can only add that whatever justice is given out in this case, the guy should thank his lucky stars he is not charged with culpable homicide. I had a look today where I hit the river bed and noticed that I missed a sharp paving stone by a few inches.

My concern for the Swans well being may inadvertently have saved my own life. About twice a year I go into this part of the river and clear it of dangerous objects that might harm or impale the Swans, I may well have done myself a huge favour !

I have not yet tried my camera and will give it another day or two to dry out.

Meanwhile I can give you a few shots I took earlier this week, when a cormorant caught an eel and then had to swallow it quickly because the cob wanted to see what it had . Needless to say the Cormorant did not have time to properly dispatch the eel and spent 10 minutes trying to keep it down ! It's called one over the 8.

Serious Assault

Earlier on Saturday evening about 8.30pm I was pushed off the river wall into a near empty river bed. It is only good fortune that I am typing this post right now. It is the early hours and I was shocked that anyone could take such a risk with someone else's life. Unless of course it was a deliberate attempt to take my life ! I was feeding the Swans as I do every day, and two men / youths appeared - late teens early twenties from between the bushes and the pumping house beside the carwash at the harbour. They looked as though they were going to walk up the riverside behind me, and the next thing I knew I was pushed forcefully in the back and went flying into the river. I was flat out and after a 12 foot fall, landed in about 18" of water and silt underneath. It is a miracle that I was not seriously injured or killed !
I may have annoyed some people over the years, likewise some people have annoyed me, but not in my wildest dreams would I contemplate doing such a dangerous act to anyone.
If anybody has any info, I would appreciate if you could contact the police - this was a very very serious unprovoked assault.
I am hoping my camera is not ruined with water, but I fear the worst. Half an hour before the assault I took the following video of Nipper being fed his poultry starter crumbs. It may be the last video or pics if my camera is trashed.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Dogs : Scottish Outdoor Access Code

After the Attack on the Swan and Looking for clarification on the question of dogs, I contacted SNH (Scottish Natural Heritage ).

I was given a reply relating to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, excerpts as follows :

During the bird breeding season (usually April to July), keep your dog under close control or on a short lead in areas such as moorland, forests, grassland, loch shores and the seashore.
In recreation areas and other public places avoid causing concern to others by keeping your dog under close control or on a short lead, and
pick up and remove your dog's faeces if it defecates in a public open place.

The above does not specify Swans Island nest site or riverside, but according to SNH It can be taken that this is covered by the Access code.

The Swans and ducks on the River Nairn start nesting in March and it is up to owners to take responsibilty for their dogs actions every single day of the dogs life !

Even now there are 70 or so birds in the river that cannot yet fly, either because they are too young or moulting. Dogs like to chase things, be it a ball, a stick or a bird.

It's a sad state of affairs when I have to request signs be put up, because I am a dog owner myself and no lover of signs either. However we have a duty to protect the environment and all other living creatures that share it with us. Irresponsible dog owners are very much the minority so it is up to the majority to hold the minority to account for their actions - or lack of it.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Catching The Rays

After the miserable rainy days, some welcome summer sunshine today. The Pen is on the mend and has started chasing the ducks again and catching the rays. After 10 days I gave her the last dose of antibiotics yesterday, worryingly there is still a bit of blood staining on her back and the new feather growth has been damaged. I am hoping this will not stop her ability to fly in a few weeks time.

Meanwhile Nipper the duck is enjoying his new freedom in the river, I tried for 2 days to leave him there but he was determined to follow me when I left. I did introduce him to Jemima and his 4 siblings and they all seemed accepting . Today he was happy to stay with his new found relatives, and was showing the joy of life by dashing and diving around the moat. ( see short vid ).

Another heart warming scene caught my attention the other day when I noticed a lone duckling peep-ing for it's mum, where it came from I have no idea. Later in the day I noticed that the mother of the year with 11 ducklings now had 12, she had allowed the lost duckling into her family ! ( so much for those who say ducks are bad mothers ). What a fantastic mother she is ! This is now three days later and she has definitely adopted the lost duckling, it is the smallest of the 12 and easy to spot.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010


My attention was captured tonight by 2 giggling women from Nairn amateur athletics NAAAC.

Standing on the merryton bridge having spotted what they believed were otters with an eel. Soon a crowd of youngsters gathered and with much babbling and feet stamping they were in danger of scaring the wildlife away. The heavens opened and I was soon soaked through, but not before I captured a few images of several mink - I counted 4 at one point but managed to get an image of 3 of them together. I suppose they could be mistaken for young otters but am pretty sure they are mink. I had two reports of otters at the bridge in the past week, so if i'm wrong about mink somebody let me know !
I got the impression that this was a Mink family, because one of them was markedly larger than the rest, and there was a bit of squabbling when eating the eel.
As mentioned in my previous post, predators come in all shapes and sizes on this river !

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Black Death

Predators on the River come in all shapes and sizes, but yesterday evening I saw one of the most powerful killer birds in action. The huge Blackback gull, it may well have been the one that killed the cygnet back in May. These are incredibly powerfull birds and will take rabbits and other small animals as well as birds. It was pitiful to see a fully grown duck trying to escape the powerfull beak of the blackback, and was pretty savage to watch. The duck was hauled over the rocks to shallower water and ferociously torn. I have seen them take ducklings before, but not a fully grown female duck. This blackback was obviously used to taking large prey. The light was fading and it was distant moving, but the poor duck can be clearly seen trying to get away.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Nipper Going Native

Tomorrow I intend to return Nipper to the wild, he has been flexing his wings frequently and should just about be able to fly now. The days of wine and roses are over for him, no more luxury pad and outdoor pool, no more cosy nights in Millie's bed watching freeview (see short video).

He will have to meet his mum Jemima and remaining siblings sometime, so monday is as good a day as any. I am certain he will go native within a month like the previous ducklings I reared. The Drake has gone totally native already and will no longer come close enough to eat from my hand, the duck does but is very wary of coming close. I am very happy that they have integrated fully with the other river ducks and are as wild as they are now. Nipper will no doubt do the same. It does show that mallards can be reared, and still put back in the wild.

I have enjoyed the whole experience and find that ducks are adorable characters, and have given me much joy. They are messy and a fair bit of work in the beginning, but well worth the joy they give. Enclosed some pics of the memories of Nipper .

Friday, 16 July 2010

Day 5 and Still Alive !

The Pen seemed a bit perkier today and almost joined in the play session with the cygnets. That was until she raised her wings and promptly put them back again. A case of the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. I only hope the damage to her wings will not put an end to her flying days, that would be a tragedy. We wont know this until she has grown all her new flight feathers in about a months time. It will probably take that long for her wounds to heal up anyway.
The avian adviser says I need to keep giving her the antibiotics for another 5 days yet.

With a strong southerly breeze the cygnets were flexing their wings and running into the wind.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Tending Her Wounds

4 days after the dog attack, this morning was again wet and cold. The swans were in the harbour and I noticed a slight change in the pen. She was creating tiny shivering vibration waves around her body and I guessed she might be either sore and cold, or in pain or both ! In relative terms the dog attack on her was the equivilent of a human getting mauled by a lion ! With that in mind I contacted my avian adviser in Swindon - a caring and dedicated swan lady called Sue. She suggested I give the pen an anti inflammatory to reduce the pain the bird must be feeling. Claire at Moray coast vets duly obliged and I managed to give the pen some this afternoon. The whole family went up river at high tide with the river also in spate, the pen is eating and with motherly devotion still defers to her cygnets most of the time ! The cob is still taking charge of the play sessions in the harbour too.