Monday, 31 December 2012

Ducklings and Trust Update

The Ducklings are having a Happy New Year, and so is our newly formed Trust.
It appears that 4 of the ducklings are females and 3 are drakes, this is ideal since we want a balance of gender on the river. They are tucking into their lettuce and grain feed but will be released very shortly, when life in the wild will be upon them ! 

Several more local people joined the trust today, and I can assure you all that the membership cards will be sent out as soon as they arrive with me.
The lovely Swans photo is on your membership card !
A very Happy and peaceful New year to all my viewers.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

The Times They are a Changing

Looks like the cygnets will going very soon, they are often on their own as Popeye and Penny start practising their nest making skills. It was the 6th January last year when they left, so I would imagine it will be pretty close to that.

The ducklings too are restless, and I will release them into the river next week, they are capable of flight and will be 9 weeks old next Tuesday. They have already flown several yards across the lawn, so need to get to the river soon ! (Short video below)
I have had several people asking to join the new Trust already, and am pleased with the positive response so far.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust

For some time now I have been thinking of the River Nairn  waterbirds future, and the best way of protecting them for future generations. Their very existence on the river gives so much pleasure to locals and visitors alike. Since the successful creation of the Swans nesting island five and half years ago, they have featured in the life of the community, and enhanced a tourist attraction for many visitors.

After talks with local wildlife watchers, I am pleased to announce The Founding Trustees of the Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust : Charles Gardner (Chairman), Joe Telfer (Founder Treasurer), Simone Laraway (Secretary),  Ronnie Main, and Lorraine Byars.
The inaugural first official Trust meeting will take place in January.
In time it is hoped we will become a registered Charity.

The trust will be Non political, and willing to cooperate with other river bodies such as the Nairn Angling Association, Scottish water, the fisheries board and Highland Council. We will also deal with local Vets and the Scottish SPCA as and when required. The aims of the Trust will be the water birds welfare, maintenance and preservation of their environment, nesting sites, and riverside habitat, for the benefit and well-being of the whole community. 

The tidal reaches of the River Nairn are unique, in as much as the environment changes twice a day with the tide, and is subject to occasional extreme conditions. It is also an urban environment which presents different challenges. It cannot be compared with tranquil duck ponds, or meandering weed filled rivers where food is plentiful.
We the Trustees of the River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust, intend to raise sufficient funds through membership fees and donations, to maintain the current family of Swans and waterfowl numbers into the future. The tidal reaches hold around 120 + resident birds throughout the Winter months, as well as migrants that over winter here. The cost of caring for these birds is at least £1500 per year for natural food, such as wheat grain.

In addition to our local trustees we have an honorary Trustee with over 20 years experience on the care of Swans and wildlife, her name is Sue Hulbert who runs a swan sanctuary in Swindon. Sue has kindly agreed to be our voluntary online Avian expert on the health and welfare of our wildlife, her expertise and advice has been, and will continue to be invaluable.

Our Chairman and resident of Fishertown Charlie Gardner, has known the river since a boy and can offer valuable historical perspective to any debate.
Simone and Lorraine both reside overlooking the river, and keep a watchful eye on the wildlife.
We know the people of Nairn value and enjoy the river wildlife, and will be happy to have committed local people speaking out on their behalf and caring for their wildlife's future.
The trust is a non profit organisation, and a bank account will be opened and administered by the unpaid voluntary trustees. The public can donate any amount, or become members of the trust with an annual membership fee of £15. Anyone wishing to contribute to the River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl trust, can contact any of the trustees or send donations to The Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust, 10 Douglas Street, Nairn. IV12 4DJ. Donations can also be made online by using the Donate button above.
For £15 you get a years free subscription to my pictorial Blog, and every penny goes to feeding the birds !

Sunday, 23 December 2012


MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL MY VIEWERS. WITH  SPECIAL THANKS TO THOSE DONORS WHO HAVE KINDLY HELPED SUPPORT THE RIVER WILDLIFE. Whether your in Nairn, Manchester, Colorado, Leicester, India , Australia, Canada or Inverness, Glasgow or Aberdeen, or elsewhere in this wonderful World. I hope you all have a warm Christmas and a  Prosperous New Year.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Darkest Days

Mid -Winter and the darkest of days are here, even worse when it's cloud and rain as well ! Makes for poor photo opportunities and a longing for the lighter days. The 3 cygnets are still here but Penny is nipping at them more often, and the young ones often have their wings in a semi raised position, indications are that they will be getting the push soon. 

The dead kelts are still providing food for the gulls, but I was disturbed to find a dead Moorhen today. It was a young one that I have seen pecking around the riverside for the past few weeks. 

I could find no external injuries of any kind, and wondered if it had access to the rat poison put down by the council ratcatcher ? The high tides lately have washed along the area where the poison was laid, it was also the area where I have sometimes seen the young Moorhen feeding. I hope we have no more politicians or rat fiasco's on the riverside !

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Spread a Little Happiness

The latest newsletter from Action for Happiness points out that you can now watch The Happy Film on-line.
With Christmas coming up, some people will be looking for something different or inspirational - maybe the Happy film is for you !

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Ducklings Then and Now

It's only 7 weeks since I rescued the Seven Halloween ducklings from the river - but what a change in their size!  The nights have been long and frosty, with only 7 hours outdoors and the other 17 spent inside the coop. They are strong and should be capable of flight in a couple of weeks - all being well.   (Short video below.)

Sunday, 16 December 2012

New Arrivals

After yesterday's scouring of the riverside, today could not have been more different. Sunshine, tranquil waters and people with smiling faces. Tide was again high and I wondered if Popeye and Penny were allowing a future Penny offspring to sit atop the nest site as of their right ? 

If you check the close up of penny and one of her daughter's you will see the similarity on the bill - where the orange bill meets the black cheek. There is a tiny v shape, this is how I can tell our swans apart, it takes time to study these small items but the genes do show through.

We also had two new winter visitor arrivals, a little Grebe and a Wigeon, the little grebe is tiny when compared to a Mallard, with a cute little powder puff rear end !  

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Ducklings and Rat update !

Today saw a thaw, and the ducklings enjoying their new two tier swimming pool ( short video below). High tides and huge north sea Swell swept up river swamping both banks along the tidal reaches. 

No doubt many river rats got washed out, which maybe includes the poisoned dead ones near Merryton bridge. I had an update from Alan bentley on the ratcatchers efforts over the "hoards of rats" fiasco in recent weeks. Enclosed content of Mr Bentley's email which I have forwarded to  Liz, Cllr Macaulay,  and others.

Hi Joe
David checked on things yesterday. He reports that there was little evidence of any recent disturbance by rats or uptake of bait, so it looks like this treatment has been successful. Unless something crops up to alter things, David anticipates that he will make a final sign off treatment check next week.

I have contacted Scottish Water regarding the pipe next to the bridge as to what it is, who is responsible, and can it be blocked or sealed off. Will keep you posted.

Alan Bentley Principal Waste Management Officer, Highland Council, TEC Services, Ross House,
High Street, Dingwall

There is now no need to remove the dense undergrowth near the bridge which is vital to local birdlife !

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Laid Back Cygnet

The three cygnets are still with parents, and pretty laid back too !

Monday, 10 December 2012

Ducklings at 6 Weeks

Today I decided the ducklings were too big to be attacked by the Sparrowhawk and let them out of the Aviary into the garden. They are growing very fast due to the grower pellet feeding. I give them a lot of lettuce, spinach and grass, the ground is too hard for worms but they forage around just the same.  Sari and Joe bottom pic. Short vid below.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Moorhens and Merganser

The freezing temperatures are starting to bring in the annual migrants. Today I saw 3 moorhen  together at the Swans island. The resident Mergansers and Goosander are also on the go. I expect the Tufted ducks will also start arriving soon, if the freezing conditions persist.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Cool Ducks

Cold damp Arctic air combined with drizzle makes for gloomy winter weather conditions. Even the ducklings headed back into the coop today for the warmth of the lamp and straw. They are growing fast and the shafts of their primary wing feathers are forming. Meanwhile down on the river, the ducks are clamouring for their food when I show up. The 4 Call ducks are still together and are as tough as any Mallard. Today I watched as one of the call drakes watched by his mate, took on a mallard drake, he was barely half the weight and eventually lost, but what a fight !

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Bounty Hunters

The Annual Winter bounty of dead salmon continues, providing feeding for the river bounty hunters. Today again at the Merryton bridge, a herring gull with winter plumage helps itself to some fairly fresh fish. It was later joined by two hoodie crows doing the double act, trying to draw the gull away from the fish - it worked. They use the same tactics to get ducklings from a mother duck !

Friday, 30 November 2012

To See Or Not To See...That is the Question.

After speaking to SNH, (Scottish natural heritage) I have today sent off the following email to the biodiversity Officer of Highland Region. This sets out my reasoning for the retention of the undergrowth at the Merryton bridge. I think I have a valid argument, I would like Cllrs Colin Macaulay, and  Tommy Hogg to look at this blog post in it's entirety and convince me otherwise.

Dear Miss Bromham,

I understand you deal with bio diversity for the highland region, and I have been given your name by SNH.
For the past 9 years I have been caring for the local swans and river wildlife in general on the river Nairn. Having constructed a Swans island on the lower river 5 years ago which has been naturalised and highly successful.
I am concerned for some riverside natural habitat which is currently under threat from the local authority.
A family of rats was discovered in a patch of undergrowth near the Merryton footbridge over the River Nairn. This family was only two adults and one maybe two youngsters as far as I could ascertain. The local authority are currently baiting the area with rat poison, evidence today is that the bait is being taken.
However, local councillor Colin Macaulay, has ideas of removing the undergrowth where the rats have been seen as an additional measure.
Along with others, I consider this idea to be very foolish for a number of very good reasons.
1. The undergrowth is dense and made up of dead and alive Bramble, gorse, and broom . It is useful and used extensively by small birds throughout the year, particularly winter where it can remain snow free underneath because of the density.

2. It is on the riverside and is also used by the ducks during nesting time, because it is safe from dogs which are constantly passing by on the nearby footpath. With the construction of a large flats complex only last year, many additional new dog owners now use this riverside path.

3.The riverbank location of this undergrowth is such that if it were removed, it would give a clear line of sight to every dog passing the area, and would most certainly result in swans and ducks being attacked by uncontrolled or unleashed dogs !

4. It would also allow the possibility of canoes and kayaks using the cleared bank space to launch boats into the river from the adjacent carpark.

5.Because the river community council have just cleared native and non native species ie, Himalayan balsam from the vicinity just after full bloom and the seed pods were bursting ! It is inevitable that any newly cleared area will be covered in non native seeds and will sprout unhindered !
Leaving the old undergrowth will suppress any new growth from starting !
In the last couple of years I have noticed a sharp decline in Herons fishing at this side of the river, and am convinced it is because of the increase in dogs taken alongside the river bank. The birds do not get the time and peace to fish !
All of the above things will happen if this scruffy piece of undergrowth is removed, it may look scruffy and untidy but is a vital part of the local ecosystem and protection for many species.
I ask you, for the sake of two or three rats which are also part of the river system - is it worth removing for the potential damage to the environment ?
If you have the power to advise and stop this foolish idea, please use it for the sake of our river and wildlife.
Enclosed photo's of our Pen which was attacked and nearly killed by a passing Labrador a few years back, only prompt action on my part saved her life. Allowing more dogs unhindered access to the river will result in more attacks.
Please persuade cllr Macaulay and River community council to abandon any idea of removing the undergrowth - in fact, advising additional planting of thorny type bushes would be a benefit to the habitat and ecosystem.
Yours   Sincerely
Joe Telfer   River Nairn wildlife carer.

My point about the lack of Herons over the last couple of years I think is also a valid one. The amount of dogs that are now sent down into the water between the Merryton bridge and swans island has jumped in the last couple of years. The Heron pics I took below were seen through gaps between bushes. The one at the top was taken just in front of the area that has now been cleared and opened by Tommy Hogg about  30 yards above the Merryton bridge, we will probably never see that again. My point is, the greater access to the riverside by dogs and people will mean less scenes like these.