Sunday, 29 July 2012

Peace Perfect Peace

Observing sleeping wildlife can be very calming, floating cygnets in particular. My favourite at the bottom though ! 

Saturday, 28 July 2012


The swans initial antagonism towards the white ducks has finally subsided to a level of acceptance, that they are in fact ducks and no threat to their territory. Thank heavens for that, makes for a more relaxed duck population. The Cygnets meanwhile still growing fast and looking like young swans.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Gull goes to Itself !

Yesterday I got a phone call from Moray coast vets , asking if I had room for a couple of seagulls recovering from road accidents. Amazingly a young gull was clipped by a car at the St Ninian road roundabout, and then walked straight to the nearby vet surgery door! Twenty minutes later another adult was hit by a car nearby and both were checked by Claire the local vet. The adult has lost it's balance and keeps falling over, the young one has an injured right leg and is hopping around, however there appears to be no broken bones. Today the adult seems to have improved and not so readily falling over, hopefully it's sense of balance will return completely in a day or two and I can let it go. The young one is too immature to let go yet, and would almost certainly crash land on one leg.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Mute Swan Petition

Having looked at the appeal by my Canadian friends regarding the killing of Mute Swans in North America. I thought I would include this plea to all you Swan lovers out there, and give you the chance to sign the enclosed petition to stop the Killing ! The Canadian waterfowl lobby and others, are using the argument that the Mute Swan is a non native species and is damaging the eco system, and should therefore be eliminated. My answer to that is, what about the millions of non native human emigrants who have settled and taken over North America ? Another website worth a visit to check out the video is here. Somehow or other I don't think that Mute swans can be compared with American mink or American crayfish ! How lucky we are to have Mute Swans gracing our Harbour and waters here !

Monday, 23 July 2012

Injured Wildlife

The blustery winds recently may have caused a poor young gull to have been blown off the roof onto the high street the other day. I took it home and bandaged a broken wing before calling the Scottish SPCA who took it away this morning, It also had head injuries. I see on the Scottish SPCA website that a young swan was killed by a dog in Perth, same breed and colour of dog that nearly killed Penny a couple of years ago, details here .

Saturday, 21 July 2012


After a good feed of carrots, grass and wheat, the family had a bathing and preening session afterwards. Penny's new flight feathers are coming on nicely and should be fully functional in a couple of weeks.

Friday, 20 July 2012

New Growth

The cygnets are growing fast and new adult feathers beginning to sprout along their wings. The timing seems to be ideally suited to the new flight feathers sprouting along Penny's wings too. Penny is usually the one who teaches them to fly by September when Popeye will still be moulting. As usual, people keep wondering if there is something wrong with the cygnets legs because they have them resting on their backs from time to time. This is normal using only one leg when resting, and also as a means of body temperature control.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Other River Birds

You could be forgiven for thinking that I am only interested in Swans and ducks, but I do keep a close eye on other birds on the river too. Some of the other species recently seen, include Swallows, young Redshank on the swans Island, and a Black back gull with a flounder. Not easy to catch a shot of a Swallow in flight though !

Monday, 16 July 2012

Duckling Mortality

At the point of writing, the latest new season duckling figures are, 73 fatalities and 17 survivors ! These are pretty grim statistics and shows the increase in predator activity compared to a few years ago. It has been a bad year for ducklings, weather has been cold all year, lack of insect life and high water spates have all contributed to the high mortality. Put into context, out of 43 ducks capable of nesting and producing young throughout the river this year, only 5 currently have any young at all - this does not bode well for future stocks. The photo of the mother and one duckling, are all that's left of her brood of 9 - she is one of the lucky ones - so far !

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Natural Deception

Penny is in full moult and will be unable to fly for another month, she always moults first at this time, while Popeye is still able to fly until penny regrows her flight feathers. This is nature's way of ensuring that one of them can always fly to defend the cygnets. At a glance you would not realise that Penny cant fly, nature has again provided an excellent deception technique. Penny retains the outer wing feathers giving the illusion that she has all her wing feathers, in reality these are only a cover while all her new feathers are sprouting from underneath! Compare the flared wings of Popeye and Penny and you will see that his are nearly touching.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Two Months Old

5 days old
The cygnets are now two months old and looking more like young swans everyday. The weather has been awful with continuous spates and all the river vegetation washed away. To make matters worse, the beach seaweed has disappeared with the encroaching sandbar smothering everything. The last few years floods have dramatically changed the local environment and with it the swans natural food supply. Last year I started to give them winter food supply in August because of the big flood, now It's only July but with recent spates the river has been cleaned out once again ! The annual cost of feeding the Swans and ducks is now around £1400, partly due to the increase cost of wheat. This does not include vets costs or picking fresh grass and the like ! Climate change is obvious to me and river wildlife habitat, but I will continue to provide what I can for the love of these beautiful creatures !

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Council Excel

Himalayan Balsam

Mr Fraser's  Highland Council Parks dept have to be commended for their prompt removal of the Himalayan Balsam that was beside the old gasworks site. After my request earlier in the year they sprayed the young Balsam, but some of it remained and was now flowering profusely. I asked only a couple of days ago if they could remove the remainder before it went to seed, and was pleasantly surprised to see the Council workmen remove all the invaders this morning, in spite of the miserable wet weather! I have already sprayed or removed all the giant hogweed that was in this location, and will continue to do so. The river is badly infested with alien species and urgently needs this to be tackled in a serious way ! The seeding of these species is second to none, and really need serious opposition to eradicate them !
Giant Hogweed flowers

Sunday, 8 July 2012


Gulls eat ducklings !

Today's Spate couldn't have come at a worse time for the new ducklings that turned up two days ago. The 8 ducklings are now down to 3. The spate has forced the swans and ducks onto the small strip of grass along the riverside wall, and people are still not heeding my advice not to throw lumps of bread - especially white bread onto the ducklings. This afternoon I saw pieces of white bread laying beside a mother duck and 4 of her remaining brood, shortly after I saw a gull standing on the river walk above her- drop down and take a duckling in the blink of an eye ! PLEASE STOP dropping large uneatable pieces of dry white bread on top of the poor ducklings, they are too small to eat bread ! It only attracts the gulls and crows !!!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Popeye On The Mend

After a weeks course of antibiotics twice a day, Popeye's leg looks to be on the mend. Ironically his course finished yesterday just as my course of antibiotics started ...also twice day!  Before and after pics below.
Some good news on the duckling front, another mother with 8 ducklings showed up today, I think it's the one that was last seen heading down Rose street last night, someone who watched her said she had about 8 or nine ducklings and seemed to know where she was heading ! Nice to get some good news for a change !


Thursday, 5 July 2012

Ducking and Diving

This evening whilst taking a few shots of surviving ducklings, I spotted what I thought was another duck with newly hatched ducklings. It was heading down river at speed and I managed to get some distance shots. It was only when seeing them on the computer that I realised it was in fact a Goosander with approx 8 chicks behind it. Later in the high street, I was told of a mother duck beside the Lloyds bank with ducklings around 8pm, apparently seen going down Rose street  - I hope she made it to the river !

Obese Sewers !

After a sewer inspection today at the Merryton sewer manholes, Scottish Water confirms that the sewers to the east of the Merryton bridge are CHOKED with FAT and SILT. This comes as no surprise to me since the system has been telling us that for years by spewing out sewage after every 20 minute cloudburst. It also confirms what I have been saying for years that lack of sewer and drain maintenance is at the root of the problem. If the Bore of the pipes is reduced by whatever percentage, it stands to reason that the system will not function as it should. A thorough clear out of all of Nairns rainwater drains and sewers is what is needed, since much of the silt is carried jointly into the system. The system needs to be kept in tip top condition, otherwise it just wont cope with demand. I understand that the sewer system to the east of Merryton bridge will be cleaned out by Scottish water.