Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Dazzling Ducks

This morning with the Sun behind me I had the chance to get a few good pics of the Pintail and Mallards. The clear cold weather gives them quite an appetite for the wheat grain, and the Pintail duck likes his share too ! With spring approaching, the Ducks are starting to get their truly dazzling colours and the Drakes are having domination fights to impress the ladies.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Council out of Sync

Our resident Swans are biding their time and enjoying relaxed days on the island and river. This week saw the return of one cygnet at the river mouth but flew off when approached by the parents. I notice that there are now 3 moorhens on the island, as well as the Pintail and mallard ducks. The Council have again shown that they are out of sync with the local wildlife, by cutting back all the dense growth beside the old gasworks site and around the harbour toilets . This dense growth was shelter and a food source for lots of small birds including the Robin which was pictured on this blog earlier. Why the hell they cut it now instead of the end of February or early March, shows lack of care and consideration for our local birdlife. It is still mid winter and the birds need the food and shelter ! It's time the parks dept got their pruning schedule for these sort of areas re-organised !

Monday, 23 January 2012

New Visitor - Update

The Muscovy duck appears to have been moved off the island by the Swans and was sitting on the rocks off the west pier this morning. It seems very tame and used to people, so probably was someone's pet or on a farm.
It can also fly which is great, and more likely to avoid danger. If someone is missing their duck, maybe they would like to retrieve, and take it home ?

I had reports of an unusual bird up river before Christmas, and from the description I guessed it was either a Muscovy or Mandarin duck. Today, the answer appeared on the Swans Island and my first guess was right - It is indeed a Muscovy duck. I suspect it has either escaped from some farm or perhaps someone's pet that has been let loose ? Muscovy Ducks are generally farmed as a domestic species, and originate from Mexico and South America. I hope it can fly, because the 4 Khaki Campbell ducks introduced into the harbour a few months ago, were either killed or taken within 10 days, because they were unable to fly away from danger. Birds that have clipped wings and put into a wild environment will easily fall prey to mink, otters and dogs ! Whoever put these species into the wild should take note !!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Island Haven

Regular visitors to the Swans Island now include the pair of Moorhens that take advantage of the spare wheat grain that I scatter around the island edges. I see them almost on a daily basis at some time or another. The island is used by all the water birds at some point over the year, and I have seen many species since first built in 2007, these include heron, mallard, lapwing, redshank, oyster catcher, turnstones, tufted duck, widgeon, shag, goosander and mergansers. Smaller birds like the Goldfinch occasionally feed on the wildflower seeds. These are dependent on the tides and time of year, but it's nice to see them whatever the season. A regular visitor to my garden just now is a jackdaw with white wing feathers !

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Earthflight Excellence

The New BBC series on Birds, "Earthflight" was again absolutely stunning tonight. So far I have missed half of them but will see them all one way or another. The filming and photography is breathtaking and a real eye opener on the fantastic world of birds. With all the pathetic TV programs on offer, it is again the natural world that grabs you by the throat and screams - "What a wonderful world" at us. If you haven't seen it yet make a point of doing so - makes the human race look ordinary ! Check out the clips on this link . http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b018xsc1/clips

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Real Goldeneye

I think whoever first named the Goldeneye, was maybe looking at a Tufted duck at the time !

The eyes of the Tufted duck are one of it's most striking features....along with that fabulous tuft!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Well Earned Rest

After 8 months of devotion and care of the cygnets, our resident swans are finally having a well earned rest. Enjoying the winter sunshine, they are patrolling their domain and preening in the icy waters of the harbour. The goosanders and mergansers are also on the go, searching for whatever small fish they can find.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Blog Problem

Apologies to anyone trying to view my blog comments using internet explorer. Apparently clicking on the comments freezes the screen, so I have had to work round this by changing the embedded comments to a popup. The problem has been caused by blogger.com who have added more options - they are apparently working on resolving the problem . Meanwhile using chrome or firefox browsers, I am told have no problem with the comments page freezing . Please continue viewing as normal.

On the Swan side, after 8 months the last cygnet left on the 12th January and the parents are now enjoying the luxury and peace of the river to themselves. Recharging the batteries until the spring.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Happy Success !

Tonight's screening of "Happy" finished with spontaneous applause from the audience, and rightly so ! Like everyone else I was touched and impressed with this documentary style film by Roko Belic. It covered a lot of Psychology on the effects of happiness and how this can be achieved. From studies it appears that 50% of our genetic makeup already determines if we are of a happy disposition or not, and 40% can be created by ourselves and how we live our lives. Only 10% is determined by wealth and other factors.

I was a little disappointed by the turnout, but 35 happy souls at least covered the cost of the hall and film hire etc, and I will send a donation to Action for happiness of whats left over.

My thanks to all those who turned up and enjoyed the film, maybe Cinema Nairn will bring it back one day for another viewing.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

See Happy - Be Happy !

The DVD film of Happy has arrived, and will be shown in the Nairn Community centre this Friday at 7-30 pm. Admission £5 per adult and half price for under 18s. Happy is a documentary style film which took over 5 years to make by Roco Belic, an academy nominated award film director. It explores the secrets of Happiness and what we can all do to have a happier life. Why not start the New Year on a positive note and see the film ? This is a one off showing, so I hope there will be a good turnout. Proceeds will go to the Young Foundation Charity.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Carbon Copy Re-run

In what appears to be a re - run of last year, all the cygnets bar one have gone today. It makes you wonder if the Swans have a built in Gregorian calendar ! The conditions are similar to last year with benign seas and high pressure building, optimum for cygnet departure. The parents are on the lookout patrolling the estuary, while the last remaining cygnet enjoyed some wheat and carrots.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

On Patrol - With Insurance

The Nairn Swans have adopted a two strand approach to safeguarding their territory. They have deposited the cygnets in the river around the island, and placed themselves in the harbour to keep any intruders out ! They have regular patrols down to the estuary on the lookout for the intruder cob, whilst the cygnets keep out of their way up river. This is a pretty good strategy and insurance to show that the territory is occupied !

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Cygnet Backup !

In a remarkable turnaround since the Friday departure of the cygnets, the pen has brought them back to save the territory and her mate ! Another large older Cob has come in and tried to take over on the same day that the cygnets left. I think he partially succeeded by the look of our Cob who has several marks to his bill and was pretty exhausted on Friday. I think the Pen realised that they had chased the cygnets too soon and brought them back yesterday, accompanied by the Intruder cob ! She gave him the brush off and took the cygnets up river calling for her mate at the same time. Over the last 2 years another Cob has come in each January but the cygnets being around stopped any takeover bid. Our Swans were a little too quick to get rid of them this year which resulted in a serious fight between the cobs. Today the family are together again and crawling all over the island in a show of unity and strength.The pen is shrewd and very much the boss on this river. ( short video of pen and cygnets in the harbour with the intruder, who was left as they looked for their Dad.)

Friday, 6 January 2012

Cygnets Gone !

Last night our resident Swan family gathered under the bailey bridge, sheltering from a ferocious and cutting wind. After giving them a feed, I took a pic knowing it might be the last chance. Today there was no sign of the cygnets, and the parents only turned up together this evening. It looks as though our cygnets have finally gone, I was told that there is a flock of 30 to 40 cygnets at Ardersier. With the wind coming from that direction it is likely that our lot will have joined them for life's great adventure ! This evening Our resident pair had already started their pre mating ritual in anticipation of the spring, this is the earliest I have ever observed them doing this. (short video below.) This has been the most successful year yet for the Nairn swans, with all 9 cygnets reared to adulthood. Although winter is not yet over, the cygnets have built up enough reserves to survive whatever comes now.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Pen is Mightier......Than the Pen !

In a remarkable bit of action today, our Pen showed what a great mate and Mother she is ! The stormy weather had driven another adult Pen into the river for shelter, it may even have been our previous resident pen and seemed familiar with the river and island. There was also 7 of our cygnets and the recent incomer too. The pen that was seeking a rest was challenged by ours, but was reluctant to leave the shelter of the river and chased around the island several times. At one point a cygnet joined in the chase but our Pen was the most aggressive and kept pouncing on the reluctant visitor. The visitor scrambled on top of the nest site, but this was the final straw for our pen who pounced on the visitors back knocking it to the ground ! It proceeded to bite the visitor several times on the neck until the visitor dropped it's head turned looked at our pen, showing complete submission. With that, our Pen let it get up and scramble down into the water away from the family of cygnets. Surprisingly our cob was a bystander during all this action, and he watched as our pen marched the visitor away from the island some 20 yards or so. She came back to the cob who paid homage to her strength by reinforcing the bonding stance and giving the deep grunting sound. Our pen was satisfied that the visitor was no longer a threat and left it in peace just upriver from the island. Seems that female Swans are not that different from female humans..."hell hath no fury..."