Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Free as a Bird

A dozen Goldfinch were on the riverside today, not in the best position for good pics though.

As for the pigeons...

After some rest and preening, I left the door of the Aviary open this morning for the two young pigeons to leave. When one of the local feral pigeons came in and basically showed them the way out ! They flew out on top of my house, then joined a group across the way. They are both free.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Two's Company - Update

Having left the two pigeons comfortably in a large box in the kitchen downstairs for the night. In the morning I arose and went to the bathroom upstairs as usual, only to find both pigeons on the bathroom window ledge ! I got the message and put them in the aviary outside, they were both flying and eager to join the pigeons that feed in the garden. Tomorrow I will open the aviary door and let them join the crowd. They are now clean, preened and ready to join the adult world I think .

Monday, 27 February 2012

Two's Company - Pigeon Rescue

If any proof were needed regarding a mild winter and early spring, then today I got it. The local police patrol informed me of a young pigeon which was at the base of Barron house and liable to be run over. I was obliged to pick the bird up and take it home to check it over. It seemed uninjured but very dirty with claws and feathers encrusted in rock hard bird poop! I had barely finished giving it a bath and clean up, when the police called and told me they recieved a call from Salon 80 ladies hair stylist. They too had a pigeon which had been run over just in front of their premises and could I check it out ? Well done to the staff for taking it in. This building adjoins Barron house and has pigeon ledges galore. Perhaps a Sparrowhawk was responsible for these two young pigeons ending up on the street, after a raid on the ledges ? The other pigeon was also quite dirty but not as bad as the first. (Short vid below Preening and drying in front of radiator). I will keep both until they are able to fly and fend for themselves. I don't wish to be inundated with sick and injured birds, so everyone's first port of call should be the SSPCA, they can be called locally on 01463 231191, keep the number handy for future reference !

Friday, 24 February 2012

High Tension

I am still waiting on Scottish and Southern Energy to fit more Bird diverters to the High Tension wires out at Kingsteps. This is giving me some High tension - for fear of another Swan fatality. With the Nesting season approaching fast, Swans are likely to be flying into the nearby pond. I was told that it will take a few weeks because the power will have to be turned off and customers have to be informed first. In addition, SSE will be doing the same thing out by loch Flemington too. Hopefully no fatalities will happen before the work is done !

Thursday, 23 February 2012

High Tide High Hopes

With the Springlike temperatures and March rapidly approaching, Penny is getting moody and broody. She is searching out Algae and roots of which there is precious few. She calls her mate when he disappears on patrol down river, and likes him to be close by at this pivotal time of year. All the signs are that they will start nesting within weeks - barring a return to severe winter weather. Yesterday she kept calling her mate but he was nowhere to be seen, so I followed her as she set off downstream looking for him. She finally saw him guarding near the river entrance and called him. Although some 100 metres away he responded to her call and immediately took off to join her quickly. Mute Swans are audible when they want to be. Penny takes to the island more often now watched over by her mate, and I expect them to start nest building sometime soon.

Monday, 20 February 2012

500 Blog Posting

Since I first started blogging I had no Idea that it would take on a life of it's own. I have never been one for diaries, so this is quite a surprise that I'm still chapping away at the keyboard. Loving the natural world, being retired and having gotten involved in the life of the River waterbirds this was a natural progression . The Natural World holds endless fascination for me, and the more I observe the more I realise that we should have much more regard for the welfare of other species ! Humanity seems so insatiably addicted to so many things, unable to break away from the destructive consumerist path we have built for ourselves. Instead of the World getting more just and united, it has become more fragmented than ever. Anyway, this is my 500th blog post and I'm pleased to say that some people round the globe do read and view my blog. (chart shows some of the countries on a particular week). I hope that in my own small way I have contributed a positive insight into our Natural world. Here in Scotland we don't have exotic species like some of the continents and countries that view my blog, they are however just as natural, wonderful and fascinating. We must care for all that inhabit our Planet, we can make it paradise or hell - the choice is ours.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Estuary Visitors

Four Goldeneye showed up in the river today, as well as the usual visitors at this time of year. The short cold snap brought them in along with more Mallards, all clamouring for grain ! Nevertheless Spring is on the way, and some Mallards are already mating and searching out nesting locations. The Goldeneye too were tilting their heads back which is also a mating display ritual . The Redshank and Turnstones were trying to unearth food as the tide receded.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Winter Woo

The Town has a large population of feral Pigeons, and quite a few have capitalised on my feeding tree ! The smaller birds are constantly dislodging seeds from the feeders and upwards of 30 pigeons clean up daily. For the past few weeks I have watched the antics of the male pigeons doing their utmost to impress the females,(short vid below). It may still be Winter, but wooing the pigeons is in full swing for some. I found a cracked pigeon egg the other day, so nesting has already started !

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Penny Takes a Nap

Mid February and the Spring like weather continues...until Winter returns at the weekend ! The ducks are pairing off and some have already dispersed away from the estuary, but will probably return with any bad weather. Meanwhile the Swans are biding their time eating and resting well. They are in excellent condition enjoying a tasty diet of wheat grain, poultry pellets, carrots (short vid below)and Penny's favourite - fresh moist wholemeal rolls when available ! After such a feast she often drifts into a satisfying sleep.

Monday, 13 February 2012

More Pintail Pics

The Pintail is still Wintering here, with ample opportunity to get some more pics too. Reading the RSPB book on the Pintail it seems a pretty rare breeder in the UK and Ireland, with fewer than 50 breeding pairs ! It would be nice if this one had a mate locally and bred here. It's the first one I have ever seen and find it beautifully marked. It's probably a visitor from Iceland, Scandinavia or the Baltic states though.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Mild Weather

The fabulous winter weather continues, and locally looks like being the mildest winter for far ! The Swans however are not fooled into thinking spring has arrived, so no question of nest building yet. The Pintail is getting well entrenched among the Mallards, and occasionally ventures onto the land to clear up the grain. The Goldeneye and remarkable Dipper are also on the go.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Cygnet Killed - UPDATE

UPDATE: After contact with SSE Restoration Manager in Inverness
today, I was promised that additional safety discs will be put on the power lines at Kingsteps, possibly insulators too. They will keep me informed.

It has come to my attention that a young swan was killed on Sunday after hitting the power lines at Kingsteps Car park. This is the same spot that our previous resident Cob was electrocuted and later died. It is tragic that a young swan is killed before having a chance too live at least a few years. I have contacted (SSE) Scottish and Southern Energy group again and asked for additional safety discs to be put on the power lines in question. After our previous resident cob was killed in 2007, I got SSE to put discs on the lines so the swans could see and avoid the power lines - clearly more measures are needed !

I do not know if it was one of our Nairn cygnets that was the victim.

Swans are beautiful fliers, but being so large need time to manoeuvre to avoid collisions. The pond at Kingsteps is surrounded by woodland and has only one flight approach which crosses the carpark and power lines. The height and distance from the pond are in the middle of the flight path and need highlighted dramatically.

Any area of water where Swans might land has to be looked at regarding the proximity of power lines, especially if they are within a 100 metres of the water.

The power companies do take the safety of wildlife into consideration and have a wildlife engineer who will act on lines in any dangerous locations. If you know of power lines that have caused deaths to birds, please report them to SSE engineers and keep their phone number for future reference. 0800 048 3515

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Of Mice and Birds

In addition to feeding the Swans and ducks during each winter, I also put out feeding for the wild birds at various spots along the riverside. One of these spots is at the retaining wall at the road bridge, under some dense bushes. Every morning I have a following of regulars that descend on the mixture of crushed peanuts, bird seed, and bread crumbs. One of the new regulars is a mouse that comes out of the wall every morning to join the birds, it has a mate and probably a nest within the wall. It proves the value of keeping strategic patches of dense undergrowth for the protection and proliferation of the birds and other wildlife ! If you look carefully you will see it feasting at top centre and bottom left of the pics.

The slow thaw got the Swans inspecting the island nest site today, but it will be March before they start nest building again.