Thursday, 31 March 2011

Ducks and Drakes

Most of the river Ducks are about to nest, if not already doing so. I am honoured on almost a daily basis at this time of year, when a duck usually accompanied by a mate ...or two, lands at my feet looking for a quick meal ! These ducks are usually sitting on eggs and can only leave the nest maybe once a day for 10 to 15 minutes. I always carry a pocket full of wheat or poultry pellets packed with protein, and easily eaten by the nesting ducks. They know I am a good source of quick nutritious food and no threat to them. The Drakes stand by and chirp a constant reassurance to their mate that they are on guard and all is well.( see short vid below ).

I find ducks such beautiful endearing creatures, and a pleasure to have on the river.

I hope the planned riverside cleanup for this Friday does not disturb the nesting ducks too much.

It would be much better if this clean up was done in early March when all the litter can be seen, and the birds not fully into the nesting season.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Harbour Mates

Our Resident Swans seem to be convinced that spring is here, and today had a mating session in the harbour. The lead up starts with elongating their necks and dipping their heads in turn, followed by dipping their heads in unison. After this, each one brushes it's side then dipping in unison yet again. The pen pushes herself lower in the water and nuzzles up to the cob, he raises his head high then crosses over the pens neck several times to dip in the water. The pen continues to dip her head, eventually lowering and slightly extending her folded wings into the water. The cob takes this action of the pen to proceed with mating, and walks onto her back. There is surprisingly no clumsiness and a fair bit of tender closeness. The mating is brief, and finally they both stretch high into the air touching each other gently. A quick wash and flourish of the wings and the mating is over.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Sheriff of Nottingham Lives on ?

As I explained in a previous post - . I have just recieved a reply to my letter from the Fiscals office, asking for a detailed explanation of the not guilty Court decision last week. I am astonished ! ( Click on the letter to enlarge).

My main concern is for the welfare of the River wildlife. With this in mind I do not seek Monetary gain or revenge. I have not yet decided whether to take civil legal action, I am considering my options.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Getting Organised

The resident swans are getting the nest site organised, and the pen is visiting the shoreline for minerals and seaweed. She is picking at whatever sparse green shoots she can find. Weather is still not conducive to nesting and the vegetation is still non existent in the river. However the days are longer and spring cannot be that far away. High spring Tides, and I notice the river rising fast tonight due to melting snow. We had a visit from 4 young swans the other day and I thought it was our cygnets coming back. On close inspection I could see it was older birds. They landed in the Lagoon that has formed just in front of the coastguard shed, I think the large shingle bed will end up against the beach in the not too distant future.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Scottish In-Justice

After my long awaited chance to testify in a Scottish Sheriff court against Julian Balzanelli, who - by his own admission, pushed me into the river Nairn last July. This action was deliberate and premeditated. I went to court last Monday expecting him to be found guilty of the charge of assault. After nearly 3 hours waiting in a witness room , I was told by a clerk of the court that I could go home and would no longer be needed ! The Sheriff had apparently decreed a not guilty verdict !!
My faith in the Scottish Justice system is now non existent. I have read and heard stories of this sort of madness but now experience it first hand. A person makes a premeditated assault on me, gets arrested the following day, confesses to the crime , then gets declared not guilty without a trial, or me or the police being called to give evidence !

This is a a slap in the face to Nairn police who did an excellent job in this case, and begs the question, Why bother having a Police force when they are undermined like this ?

I have written to the procurator for a detailed explanation of this decision, and will now have to consider if I have to go to the press and take a civil action against the assailant for damages.
I am sure the Population of Nairn will agree, that the Sheriffs decision is a mandate for all law breaking youths in Nairn to carry on regardless - there will be no repercussions !

Everybody watch your back !
Shame on Scottish justice !
Probably more on this later.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Winter Plumage

A fairly rare visitor to the river today - The Long Tailed Duck. A male with his winter plumage did some duckin and diving. I haven't seen many of these in the harbour or river, but this one today visited both. The winter plumage is quite striking and surely must attract the ladies !

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Nesting and Nest Boxes

Eighteen months ago I bought a few nest boxes In the hope of attracting some birds to nest. I placed them around the garden prior to last winter so that the birds would get used to them.
I did see some birds inspecting them from time to time, but none of the boxes were chosen in the spring for nesting. I thought perhaps the garden was too small and in the wrong location etc. This year I am delighted to have a pair of Blue tits using one of the boxes. Surprisingly it's close to my feeding tree on a north facing wall, which is not the ideal location and usually not advisable to put a nest box near a feeding area. I have noticed that the Blue tits seem to use the Sparrows as cover when going in and out of the box ! When the sparrows descend on the feeding tree, the blue tits arrive seconds later and then quickly enter the nest box. They have been doing this for the past week, so I'm sure they're nesting there. Winter may still be hitting us but the nesting season is well under way, earlier this week I discovered a ducks nest along the riverside. A timely reminder for people to keep their dogs under control during the breeding season !

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

What's it all about ?....Algae

The pen is down to the serious business of reproduction and is searching out the minerals and nutrients needed for the task. It is still a little early in the year for the weed and algae growth due to lack of warmth and sunlight. The extension of the sand bar along the beach is also having an adverse effect on the Swans food supply too, seaweed used to be plentiful at the end of the pier but this has been choked off by the encroaching sand. The pen is very picky now and will only eat what she wants when she wants ! Swans by nature are not greedy, they do not gorge themselves like some other species. The lower reaches of the river Nairn are not ideal swan territory as far as their grass and weed food supply, but they do manage half the year anyway. Algae and minerals seem to be her primary concern prior to nesting, she has taken to picking it off the pier walls and riverbed stones. Another interesting observation I have made, is that the cob seems to be the one who forms the interior nest size prior to construction ! Logic would seem to suggest that he - having the larger body size will create a nest large enough to hold all the eggs, which could be anything up to a dozen but usually around six or seven. Ain't Nature wonderful !

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Wildlife Watch !

I was horrified this morning when I heard on the Radio that 31 Swans had been killed down in Somerset, by some moron with an Airgun ! (see BBC News item ) ) This to me is unforgivable, to kill such beautiful gentle innocent creatures. My understanding of Swans and their lives makes it even worse, they have families, bonds, and at this time of year some will leave broken hearted partners! Apparently a reward of £25,000 is offered to catch the Killer, People are incensed and no wonder. On this subject is a timely reminder of the vulnerability of our own Nairn Swans, they will be nesting shortly and I ask all residents to keep an eye out for their welfare. This is paricularly important this year - since the father of the assailant who pushed me into the river has intimated that there will be no cygnets this year !!! I feel an obligation to make all the Nairn residents aware of this fact. There can be no excuse for threatening innocent creatures that mean so much to so many. All those who reside along the river have always done a great job looking out for the Swans, there is also the Police CCTV coverage of the nest site as well. I ask you all to continue protecting our Swans and wildlife, especially over the next few months.

The 10 Keys to Happiness

Have just received the latest update from the Action for Happiness movement. Extract here - (Ten Keys to Happier Living. In recent years lots of new scientific evidence has emerged about the things that make life happy and fulfilling. Yet very little of this knowledge is communicated in a way that's useful in our daily lives.We've undertaken a review of the latest evidence and distilled the findings into ten simple themes. Before making these more widely available, we wanted to share them with our members and get your reactions.To find out more and give your views, see 10 Keys to Happier Living.) Much headway is being made with the movement and they have compiled a list of 10 keys to happier living. If you have the time or inclination you may like to take the survey and download the 10 keys. I have, and concur that they have compiled a very true and condensed guide to help you on the road to a happier life ! Join the Happiness movement and be as content as the sleeping swan above ! .

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Seagull Bites Dog !

Having chosen the name Steven Seagull for my feathered friend, it appears to be well named.

Today after eyeing up Millie my dog for some time, he decided to check her out and find out if she was edible ! The pics and short clip below give a whole new meaning to "having the hair of the dog !" After giving her a nip he scarpers. Millie is in a league of her own when it comes to not hurting a fly.