Monday, 28 February 2011

Cygnet Makes it 1 Over The 8

What a glorious Spring day, the Sun is shining the sea is calm and nature works it's magic again. I was told our young pen left this morning about 11am. As I expected, a flock of 8 young Swans circled and passed over the west beach. Our young pen alone in the lagoon, raced over the surface of the water and took off to join the flock as it headed West towards Ardersier. I am happy and relieved that she is where she belongs and has survived. I was concerned that perhaps a fast dog might have attacked her in the shallow lagoon. It has been a valuable lesson avoiding this for the past few weeks, she was particularly wary of black dogs having survived last summers attack.... Bon Voyage my lovely!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Cygnet - on - Sea

The young pen cygnet is still staying close to home and patrolling the west shore. Several people have enquired as to why she is on her own and why she has been rejected ! The fact is she has not been rejected but ejected along with her siblings. I think the other 3 were males and left about a week ago. There was a point however back in September at the crucial time when the parents were teaching them to fly, that could explain why she is now on her own. She was injured by fishing tackle and was unable to walk properly for about a month. This posting last september explains it. // She became weak and vulnerable so the parents kept her away from the others in case they too became sick. This was understandable and lasted for over a month when they should have been leaving in October. This shunning continued, all be it to a lesser degree right up until they were finally chased away last month. Anyhow the cygnet is fine, fully recovered and in good health. She will undoubtedly tag along with any swans that pass by in the coming spring. Maybe we should rename the west beach Cygnet- on -Sea !

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Sparrowhawk Strike

Some days things just go from bad to worse, others just get better and better - today was one of those ! The weather was glorious and really felt spring was on it's way, the Swans and ducks were in great shape and when I got to the harbour I saw a splash of feathers scattered over the road. Looking over the harbour corner there was a Sparrowhawk grasping a feral Pigeon and systematically pulling breast feathers from it. The tide was on it's way in but the Hawk was busy clearing the breast and tearing at the flesh. This was the closest I have ever been to a bird of prey in action ! It was a female Sparrowhawk that had tackled a bird heavier than itself, and feasting without fear. The harbour corner was dark and I tried several settings on the camera, after being given some advice from a gentleman who was into photography and ISO settings etc. Many of the shots came out too grainy and snowy, but some have come out very well indeed. I also managed to take some video and include a short clip below showing the hawk moving the carcase out of the rising tide to higher ground ! This she did 3 times during the course of my observations. What a superb bird of prey..... Enjoy !

Monday, 21 February 2011

Snow White Serene Swans

Yesterday proved to be another reasonable day weather wise, but with a chill breeze. The resident Pen is searching out algae again and is very picky about what she eats, this is a prelude to nesting and egg production. Both our Swans look in superb condition, and are positively radiant as these photo's show. I was again privileged and honoured by their trust in me and able to take the enclosed video below - showing what beautiful serene creatures they are. The Pen is only a couple of feet away and seems to enjoy being close. Enjoy !

Friday, 18 February 2011

Goosander and Goldeneye

The High tide this week has brought in some newcomers. Yesterday I saw 3 Goldeneye, one male and two females - earlier a Male Goosander and two females, also doing a spot of fishing. (See video below of female Goosander fishing in the harbour. ) The sea is still throwing quite a swell and the tide will be 4.9 on Sunday at 1.30pm. The Dunes on the central west beach are likely to be eroded still further. I wonder when were going to get some double digit temperatures, it's been freezing or single digits since November! I think the Swans will start nesting when the temperatures rise into double digits. Many of the Mallards are starting to pair up and disperse up river, I'm hoping for a repeat of last years successful breeding.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Sparrowhawk Again !

The Sparrowhawk has taken a liking to my garden and visited twice today. Steven my seagull gave a loud screech this afternoon and I thought the Sparrowhawk had got him. However when I looked out the window the hawk was walking under the bushes looking for Sparrows. I think Steven is too big for him and he is pretty strong with a vicious beak, so I
don't think the hawk will tackle him. The Hawk has the advantage of a neighbours trees, can sit almost undetected and swoop down at will. According to my bird book, the hawk appears to be a young male.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Cygnet Flies In

With a big swell, crashing waves and neap tide, the Cygnet along the west beach is having a harder time feeding. Today she decided to return to the river and was immediately pounced on by the parents ! The Pen ran along the river surface and took off briefly before landing and scaring the Cygnet away ! It's a tough world growing up, with all the dangers of attack around you. Even when she is along the shore she is always on the look out for dogs or anyone getting too close. There are those who would hurt the wildlife too, like the latest on the SSPCA website - .

I was wondering why all my garden birds had disappeared today, until I looked closely at my bird feeder tree !

The sparrowhawk had returned and was perched waiting for another meal, it had already scored, with a pile of feathers close by.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Going with the Grain

The days are slowly stretching and spring like thoughts are beginning to occupy our Swans. The cob was sitting on the nest site the other day, re - shaping the nest depression. Meanwhile the Pen is fussily feasting on the foods she likes, in preparation for the task ahead. She is partial to grower pellets and wheat grain at this time, both of which cost about£9 per 20kg sack. However since I stopped smoking 8 years ago this week, I am happy to be here to pay for it ! I am also grateful to Margaret in Park street who recently paid for a sack . You can see they enjoy it Margaret. (See vids below)

The young pen is still feeding around the swimming pool area and cuts a lonely figure, but today she had the company of some Brent geese that also like grazing on the rock weed. I have a wee soft spot for this cygnet, since she was the one I removed a fishing hook from earlier in the year.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Six Month Seagull

It's now over 6 months since I took in Steven the seagull. He has survived -12c over the winter but still cant fly and I doubt if he ever will, not for the want of trying but his right wing wont extend completely. In a strong headwind he can stay aloft for several seconds in my limited garden space, he might manage a little more in an open environment. He has also broken the tips of his right wing flight feathers by bashing them on the ground whilst trying to take off. Otherwise he is healthy and able to take on any other young seagulls that come into the garden. I think he will probably survive happily in a not too adverse environment. I will have to decide by the spring where he should spend his future. He has a sense of fun and likes to play with anything new, and is quite happy with all the other bird company in the garden.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Low pressure = High water = High Drama

The local council were caught by surprise today when the tidal water level rose to the top of the river wall. Two workmen hurriedly put up the flood gates minutes before high tide. The tidal charts for today indicated a 4.3 metre tide, which is not an abnormal tide. The real culprit was the deep low pressure north of the country. Each millibar drop in pressure raises the sea level by approx 1 centimetre, this might seem small but combined with a high tide high winds and a river flood, could prove disasterous for some coastal regions. In two weeks time there is a high tide of 4.9 metres - had this been today then we would have seen the maggot flooded and water levels possibly over the low walls at the moorings. This puts into context just how powerful nature is, and how dredging the river would have no bearing at all in coastal flood prevention ! However it was High drama for a family of mice that had made their home in the river wall. As I watched the Swans inspect their Island shortly before high tide, I spotted a poor mouse poking it's head out of a crack in the river path. The water was lapping underneath it,and within minutes 3 mice made a quick exit. One ran along the pathway close to the wall, and the other two started swimming towards whatever debris was floating at the side. I took a few pics of the ones that swam to safety, one of them climbed a dock stem, and another sat on a pile of floating twigs. It was very dull and raining but you should spot them in the middle of the pics! Wee sleekit cowerin timid beastie' glad they survived!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Cygnets Return for Shelter

With Horizontal rain and fierce winds, the Cygnets had the sense to shelter in the lee of the dunes this afternoon. I was happy to see all four of them together again, since they seem to have split up over the past few weeks. They are looking absolutely beautiful and in tip top condition ! (See video below ) -The parents are catching up on quality resting time, and getting protective and closer to the island every day. I hope this bad spell of weather doesn't last too long !