Saturday, 30 June 2012

Recognition ?

Today got me wondering if the Mother of the 3 white ducks recognises her offspring, It's a wee bit uncanny how she seems to want to be close to them.( she is in the foreground) They are beautiful enough to make a swan jealous ! 

Friday, 29 June 2012

The Carnage Begins

         I received the first adult seagull casualty of this years breeding season tonight. It was taken to the Police station by a visiting tourist who found it in a town street, they could not leave it injured. The police called and asked if I could take care of it meanwhile. I have given it the once over and will pass it on to the Scottish SPCA in the morning. It has a double break in the wing at the joint as well as damaged blood vessels. It's beyond my ability to repair it successfully. I cant help wondering if there are a couple of chicks standing somewhere waiting on their mother to return with food. It's a sad fact that most of these adults will be feeding chicks at the moment, it's even sadder that some people intentionally run these birds over when they are in the road ! I have seen people encouraging gulls by throwing chips into the street.  

Thursday, 28 June 2012

It Must be Turdsday....again !....Update

                   I have been informed by SEPA that Scottish water will be conducting investigations next week to determine whether there are blockages in the sewer downstream. It would be interesting to know how often Scottish Water rod or power clean the main sewers ?

 In a repeat of last Saturday's pollution incident, the manhole covers were again spewing sewage down both sides of the Merryton bridge riverside paths. A video of the incident can be viewed on the Gurn. Twice within 5 days we have thousands of gallons polluting the environment. With the school holidays just starting, I would not advise kids to play anywhere near the Merryton bridge area at this time. I gave Popeye his first dose of Antibiotics this afternoon, Scottish Water gave him his second dose of Bacteria in a week ! This is a serious problem, and shows that the sewer system here is not fit for purpose, it needs a thorough overhaul ! I reported the incident again to Scottish water and I'm sure others did too.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Popeye Needs Treatment

After consultations with Sue my Avian adviser and two Vets about Popeye's infected leg, I will have to keep a close eye and start him on a course of antibiotics tomorrow. If that doesn't do the trick within the next couple of weeks, I may have to get him to a Vets surgery. Taking him away from his family will be traumatic for all of them, so I am trying to avoid that unless absolutely necessary. It's possible that the lesion will heal of it's own accord given enough time, but it could also get worse. It seems prudent to use the antibiotics route meanwhile.
I heard tonight that the Forres cygnets are now down to 3 after starting the season with 7, looks like they have a major predator over there ! 

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Snow White 7 Dwarfs and a Cormorant Too.

The Swans are growing apace and always looking for food, hard to believe they are only 6 weeks old and already the size of geese ! 

The recent spate has allowed some fish to migrate into the river, and the cormorant is quick to seize the opportunity for a selection such as eels and flounders ! I watched as this fellow tried to figure out how to swallow the flounder in the end, and I mean end -opting for the vertical approach!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Swan Falling Foul of Pollution ?

Today, I noticed Popeye our resident Cob had a sore on his leg. I have taken pics and sent them down to Sue my Avian adviser in Swindon, at first glance she thinks it might be a fungal infection but will consult with her avian expert Vets to see what their opinion is. Whatever it is looks none too pleasant, and it being an open sore is obviously open to bacterial infection - Another reason we don't want sewage spilling into the river !!

 I will take appropriate action on diagnosis. The fishing and tourist season is now upon us and I would like people to take a look at the results of fishing tackle on wildlife at Scottish SPCA site. 

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Riverside Pollution...Again !....UPDATE !

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) replied to my email saying that they were informed by Scottish water of the overflow and are currently investigating.

New pipe, old problem - seems like Nairn sewage system still cant cope with a 20 minute downpour ! I hope we don't get the deluge that they have been getting down south ! I stood under the Nairn A96 road bridge to avoid a 20 minute downpour this afternoon, on arrival at Merryton (sewage Bridge) well named by locals, the smell was ripe and the raw sewerage flowed freely from the manhole covers at both ends of the bridge. The short video and pics tell the story. I phoned Scottish Water to tell them of the sewerage pool on the riverside path. After the renewal of the fractured section of pipe on the west side at Brochers brae, this has done nothing to solve the problem of sewerage overspill due to lack of maintenance and or renewal of Nairn's sewerage system ! This is the start of the Tourist season and thousands of gallons of raw sewerage has now headed downstream to pollute the beaches. Having heard that one of the contractors renewing the fractured section, was of the opinion that the system was choked up and reduced to half it's capacity. Scottish water needs to maintain and upgrade where needed, IT IS UNACCEPTABLE FOR THIS POLLUTION TO CONTINUE !

Friday, 22 June 2012

Looking Back in Anger

Looking back into my computer photo records for 2006, to prove a point about the yellow/white ducks in the river. We had one before when a mallard duck hatched some ducklings and one was identical to the ones I just released into the river. It was killed by a crow on the 19th May 2006 and I brought it home to measure it because it was already a fair size when killed. The genes of these ducks still exist in the current duck population, it shows that we would and could have other variety of ducks if they were given half a chance to survive ! The light coloured ones stick out and are more easily targeted by the crows. Although yellow when small, they turn white at about 5 weeks old. For comparison sake take a look at the 3 released this week when they were younger, and the pics of the one that was killed back in 2006. If your wondering how I managed to get it after the Crow, a local man saw the Crow grab the duckling and threw a stone at it, the Crow dropped the duckling but it died when it reached the riverbank !
By the way, the latest news on this years duckling numbers is, 58 killed, 16 remaining to date.(they will not be safe for about another 3 weeks )

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

My Remarkable Mallard

Regular viewers may recall my rearing a few Mallards over the last couple of years and introducing them to the river. Today I can reveal the story of one of those remarkable Mallards and her contribution to the beautiful white duck variety introduced today. Last year one of my Mallard ducks nested in a boat not once but TWICE, the first time half her eggs were stolen, she ended up hatching 3 in April 2011, one of which I saw laying dead on the pontoon (unexplained by the boat owner), the remaining two died of cold shortly after I arrived at the harbour because they were in the water too long and unable to get out. After this tragedy she nested in yet another boat (boats rarely move in the harbour), I resolved that this tragedy would not happen again. The eggs had been laid in the bow of the second boat on the floor, should the owner have used the boat the eggs would have been smashed for sure. With the harbour masters permission I removed both the duck and the eggs and took them home to the coop. Unfortunately because she didn't have her mate she would not settle and would not sit on the eggs, I had no choice but to let her return to her mate and put the eggs in an incubator.Within 2 weeks she had disappeared from the harbour but her mate was still around , I suspect she was killed by either the Mink or the Otter in the harbour. In due course 4 of her eggs hatched in the incubator, and as luck would have it, two of them were female and bore a remarkable resemblance to her.When they were about 10 weeks old and just ready to fly I released them into the river where they integrated successfully with the other ducks. My close daily contact with all the river ducks meant that I could observe them in detail, and looked forward to this spring to see if they would mate. Sure enough she did, and built a beautiful nest on the island strip at the road bridge, it seemed the perfect spot safe and camouflaged. 

The poor duck however was not aware that the April Spring tide would swamp the nest, and any heavy river spate could do the same. I agonised over what to do, knowing the impending tide was due and the river was also in spate, it seemed wrong to let the nest be destroyed when I knew how to save the eggs. The day before the flood I removed 6 eggs from the nest and replaced them with hens eggs, this was in case the nest got flooded but not washed away and she would continue to sit on them. The following day the raging river was well above the nest level and I knew all would be lost, I was right ! Anyway I placed 5 eggs in the incubator because one was cracked and had to be discarded, they were already more than half way through their incubation period and 4 hatched within a couple of weeks.

 To my astonishment 3 of them were beautiful yellow ducklings - I was gobsmacked and realised she must have mated with one of the 4 or 5 hybrid drakes that are still around from the previous blonde ducks we had a few years ago. The 4th one is a normal mallard drake, and the 5th did not hatch at all. It has been a lot of work but such a privilege to have saved reared and released these beautiful ducks today.
This is not the end of the story however, after losing her nest to the flood my remarkable duck built another nest on the building site of the new pipeline at brochers brae. 

She chose the only bush that the contractors did not uproot and built her nest under it. I was terrified that she would be run over by the heavy machinery constantly in use and asked the digger drivers to be careful - which they did. As I reported in a previous post vandals kicked over all the temporary fencing close to the nest, scared her off and the gulls got her eggs ! After choosing two apparently safe nest sites she was deprived of rearing a brood yet again ! I have used the word remarkable intentionally, because my intrepid duck is again sitting on eggs in a new location for the 3rd time this year, remarkable indeed ! It puts paid to the notion that you can't rear a mallard and return it to the wild, I also think her sister is sitting on eggs too, and I should know within 2 weeks if both are successful, wish them both well ! Her white ducks in the river today appear to resemble white Campbell's, and at 9 weeks are the same size as a Mallard. 

The sequence of pics shows the Grand mother duck in the harbour last year, then her 4 offspring, then the current Mother duck on both her previous destroyed nests. (she is the current nesting mother of the white and normal mallard, both seen hatching together in the incubator). After witnessing all this, my admiration and love for ducks grows even more !

Monday, 18 June 2012

New Brood

Pleasant surprise on the Swans island this evening, another Duck with 9 ducklings newly hatched. Today at last gave us some respite from the cold northerly winds, and allowed the ducklings to catch a few flies. We currently have four separate broods, of 3, 5, 7, and 9, all of them under a week old - the losses as far as I'm aware are now 49. It looks like many of the ducks that lost their nests to the April flood, have had second clutches now coming on stream. I also know of at least two ducks sitting and should soon have broods, lets hope the crows have other prey in their sights meanwhile. I also noticed a drake with a broken wing this evening, with another one found dead recently I hope we don't have a local villain homing on on the poor ducks ! Needless to say, if you see any abuse of the river wildlife call the police or Scottish SPCA.

The duck with 5 ducklings was escorted by her mate this evening, this is quite rare because the drakes usually have little to do with a ducks brood.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Swans Progress

The persistent low temperatures are a real drag on everything, less insect food for the wildlife and I notice the birds are behaving as though winter was approaching - very weird indeed ! The Swans and Cygnets spend a lot of time on the island due to lack of food in the harbour and river. I am feeding them at least twice a day and the cygnets are the size of adult ducks now. The ducklings are still being taken and we are now down to 8 remaining, the signs are not good for this year.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Latest Score: Predators 41, Ducks 13

Another Mother duck turned up yesterday with 10 ducklings, she appears to still have them today. Unfortunately the mother with 6 is now down to 3. The running tally at the moment is predators 41 ducks 13, I'm fairly sure this will tilt even more towards the predators. I know of several ducks that are still "sitting" so I'm hopeful that we will have more to come, the constant spring like temperatures seem to have prolonged the duck mating season, and some who lost their first clutches are nesting again.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Chilly for June

With only 10 days to mid summer it's chilly for June, Weather forecaster on TV says frost in the glens tonight. Could this be the start of a new ice age with cold summer's the first signs ? Although down south the weather is worse from the rain point of view, we seem to have relentless cold northerly winds month after month! Since the deaths of all 38 ducklings so far this year, hope springs eternal with the first new one's I spotted yesterday for the past month. A mother duck turned up on the island with 6 ducklings, but today she is down to 5, we can only hope that she will save some of them. the cold temperatures just don't help, with lack of insects for the ducklings.

Coming up for one month old, the Cygnets are growing at a rate of knots and turning into eating machines !

Friday, 8 June 2012

Each To it's Own

I note that the Nairn Seagulls are now hatching their young and it won't be long before we hear all the complaints about Seagull attacks , mess etc. Each year I get a first hand view of my neighbours rooftop nest site. I have often watched with great interest, intrigued by the whole evolutionary process. It's fascinating to compare species and their needs and priorities for survival. The young gull chicks of a week or so have quite an advanced wingspan when tiny, compared to their body size. If you compare that to the swan cygnet which has a tiny wingspan even when a month old,(compare the top pics). Both species priorities are different because the gulls have to learn to fly quickly, whereas the swans ability to swim and reach down for food is more important - hence the growth of the neck length is a priority. The gull parents have to provide all the chicks food, but the Swan cygnets have to get their own. Most gulls lay 3 eggs, and in this case it appears one hasn't hatched, the camouflage of the young chicks is excellent of course.

Bath Time

Probably the best day weather wise this week, prompted a fine bathing session for the Swans.