Saturday, 29 January 2011

Swans Mating Again

Love is in the air - at least as far as the Swans are concerned ! Last year we had no spring to speak of, perhaps we'll get two springs this year ! Today our beautiful Swans were canoodling in the river and I happened to be present with the camera. There was much too much to put on in one go, so I had to take short vids at a time. According to my Chinese friend at Mr Tans takeaway, he tells me that Chinese New year on the 3rd February is traditionally considered the first day of Spring - certainly the Swans and Ducks seem to agree.

The Pen seemed to be the prime mover once again, encouraging the Cob with much head dipping and neck caressing helping him along by dropping her wings - culminating in the video below.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Happiness Challenge

Happiness - something we could all do with more of at this time of year. Todays sunshine and walk on the beach to see the cygnets, certainly gave me a dose of happiness. Just watching them in the afternoon glow was a tonic. I have just received the latest update on the "Action for Happiness movement." Seems to be going from strength to strength, and now given some TV coverage by the BBC. It included some short videos showing that there are steps we can all take to make ourselves happier.
Introduction to the Happiness Challenge
Video 1: Can we learn to be happier?
Video 2: Being grateful for the good things
Video 3: Importance of kindness and relationships
Video 4: Can mindfulness help us deal with stress?
If a walk on the beach and the Swans dont do it for you, maybe you could try this. I was impressed by the 10 minute meditation video by former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Cygnet Surfers

It's 2 weeks since the cygnets were banished from the river and I have checked they're whereabouts since they left. They appear to love home so much they are sticking close by the shore, west of the river mouth. I suspect they will hang around until they join a passing flock, or the parents will escort them away to Dalcross or Findhorn maybe. Meanwhile they are managing to survive on seaweed at low tide, and they were looking healthy enough today when I saw them. I was pleasantly surprised when they recognised and came over to me, bobbing around in the surf. The 3 males were together and the young pen on her own about 100 metres away. The fresh Northerly wind was pretty chilly, but the days are stretching and the parents are enjoying a bit of peace and R & R.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Natural Beauty

Some things in this life are naturally beautiful, to my mind one of these is the Swan. Is it the elegance, the purity, the grace, the calmness that they exude ? They possess so many qualities and display such parental and family making skills, to me they are an absolute joy to observe.

Our residents are now relaxed and enjoying the well earned respite from family duties. They are in excellent condition and will soon be full of the joys of spring ! Enjoy the short video taken today where I had a few words with the pen. Also enjoy the amazing Youtube short on a Trumpeter Swan being attacked by an Eagle in Canada. Bear in mind that the Trumpeter wingspan is a little bigger than our Swans 6ft !
Click on this link for Eagle attack on Swan

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Avoiding the Beak

Some of my regular viewers will be wanting to know how the Court case went regarding the assault on me last July. It was again adjourned for a second time, due to a witness not turning up. Next court hearing will be in March. Methinks my assailant is trying to avoid the inevitable. Anyhow it is out of my hands and now rests with the courts.

Not much happening on the river lately so thought I would continue the theme on the power of beaks !

Ironic - but some of these nice shots were taken with the camera that was destroyed in the assault.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Early Spring on the Way ?

Do the Swans know something we don't ? I was reliably informed that the Swans were seen mating in the harbour a couple of days ago. This is the earliest I have known them to mate, mid February is the earliest date I have seen them before. Since the severe weather started a month early, maybe the whole season will follow suit - nice thought anyway. The cygnets have caused a bit of a stir in the past few days too, one of them was on the grass verge beside the toilet block on Sunday. A bird friend of mine picked it up and returned it to the river where it quickly headed for the sea ! The young pen also returned up to the Merryton bridge but has since headed to sea again. The instinctive fear of the parents seems overwhelming and they are constantly on the look out for them ! Pity some of the kids today don't have the same instinct !

Meanwhile our resident swans are winding down and relaxing in the Harbour, two to a berth !

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Nairn Swans Home Alone.......Not Quite !

The Nairn Swans have almost managed to say goodbye to the Cygnets and reclaim their river home once more. I had a look from the end of the pier today and about 200 yards offshore were the whole Nairn Swan family. The pen rose up followed by all the others and they took to the skies, the wind was light from the southwest and I thought there they go ! They flew west towards the Swimming pool then turned, headed back and landed up river - the parents under the bailey bridge and cygnets over it. It is amazing just how well organised the parents are, the pen immediately turned downstream and sat blocking the entrance to the harbour, while the cob set about chasing the cygnets back down stream to sea ! One by one they all headed past the harbour entrance giving the pen a wide berth, then the cob rejoined the pen when the cygnets were back to sea !

Friday, 14 January 2011

Cob Attack

Surprise surprise, the cygnets returned yesterday escorted by the parents as they flew over the bailey bridge. They had obviously been away some distance for I couldn't see them from the pier, perhaps the parents took them somewhere and discovered that it was still frozen over !

The young pair of Cygnets that showed up the other day also arrived back in the river, one of them stood quite happily with the current 4. It was short lived when the parents decided it had to go, and the cob proved that he can move fast on land as well as water ! (See video below.)
There was no sign of the cygnets tonight !

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The Last Chase ?

The Cygnets are reluctant to leave, and tried to return at least twice during the course of the day. The parents however are increasing the pressure, and gave them short shrift before pushing them out to sea ! It is noticeable that the parents always choose a calm and settled time to chase them away - they always give them the best chance possible.

Going, Going, Gone ? - Farewell my Lovelies

Last year the cygnets left on the 12th february, today our current brood have gone exactly one month earlier ! This appears to indicate that the weather dictates what the adult Swans do, severe winter started about a month early this year. Maybe were in for an early spring ! This morning two swans flew into the river and at first I thought it was our resident pair having got rid of the cygnets. When I got closer I realised it was in fact two immature swans, and after taking some pics of them and looking at them on the computer I think they are from last years brood ! One of them had facial markings almost identical to our pen, they also flew in over the bailey bridge and landed like they knew the place very well. They were only in for about 10 minutes when our resident pair started coming in from the sea followed about 50 yards behind by the 4 cygnets. The cob took off just under the bailey bridge and chased the two visitors up river and away, then turned his attention to chasing the cygnets back out to sea. Later in the afternoon 3 of the cygnets came back and were allowed to eat briefly before being chased again. One of them went up to the merryton bridge and had a lonely vigil beside the Heron ! Later last night there was only one cygnet with the parents but they would not let it enter the harbour, I am fully expecting all of them to be gone by morning.

Monday, 10 January 2011

In the Pink

The adult swans have re-started their push on the cygnets to leave. The weather is getting milder and the cygnets are healthy and strong. They will be 8 months old later this week and should have built up enough fat reserves to make it through to the spring. All last week they have spent a lot of time away from the parents, and the final act will be to leave and join the first flock of swans they come across. They will usually stay with the flock until they mature in 2 or 3 years time when they will pick a mate and look for a territory of their own - this is the way of Swans. It has been a delight to watch the Tufted ducks, cygnets and other birds on the river this last few days. I will miss the cygnets when they go !

Friday, 7 January 2011

Tuf Ducks

Had to show you this Pic I took today of one of the male tufted ducks. What a Hairstyle!!

Saw 18 tufted ducks in the river the other day, that is the most I have ever seen in the river - previous best was 12. They are beautiful little birds and in the sunlight have a purple hue, and that tuft on the males is really cute ! Some of them are getting quite brave and competing with the Mallards for food. They have discovered that wheat sinks, and dive for the grains that the mallards prefer on land. With the return of snow and ice the Swans have stopped chasing the cygnets but the break has virtually been made, with the parents often leaving the cygnets and spending much more time away from them. Am pretty sure the first prolonged mild spell will see the cygnets depart for good. The seal has been fishing at Merryton with this weeks high tides, and the Goosander with his two female companions as well ! For those of you wondering whats happened to Steven seagull - he is ok but still unable to maintain any length of time in the air, although better now than he has ever been.