Sunday, 30 September 2012

Co-op Good With Food !

With the ever increasing cost of grain and around 120 Ducks and Swans on the lower river to feed, I am always grateful for any financial assistance that comes my way. Winter ensures that I go through two or three 20 kg bags of grain a week plus 10 kg of Carrots, and wholemeal loaves. This might seem a lot of food but divided between 120 Swans and Ducks over the week, it's what is needed for their good health and survival over the winter. Paul, one of the Nairn Co-op Managers, a bird lover himself, is sympathetic to the wildlife and offered to site a few donation buckets in the King street store. The store has a policy that supports local good causes, and I am extremely grateful for the help. 

I spend around £1400 a year myself feeding the wildlife, so all you local shoppers who like to see wildlife thriving on the river, and would like to help with the cost of feeding them over the winter, feel free to deposit some loose change at the checkout ! Swan postcards can be had in exchange for donations. On behalf of the Nairn wildlife Many Thanks !

Friday, 28 September 2012

Something Special

This weekend I have something really special that I think you will all appreciate. Archie a friend of mine, sent me a link to a Youtube Video, which Is so exciting and moving I think everyone should see it. Saving any wildlife is immensly satisfying. Go full screen and Enjoy this Gem !

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

What a Fluke !

It was a test of endurance yesterday venturing out to feed the Swans and ducks, the wind was ferocious and the rain relentless. All the wildlife had gathered at the island, the only haven in the river where they could avoid the worst of the flood and storm. Today was a big improvement but the river is still in flood, and the wildlife glad to be fed. The two white ducks were dabbling along the edge, when the drake caught a wee fluke (flounder), he was nipping at it for a while but his sister was keen to have a go. She grabbed it and proceeded to soften it up, eventually swallowing it. (Short video below). Although reared by me they are learning to hunt and make use of the river.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

New Wetlands For Nairn ?

Last night I went to the NICE ( Nairn Improvement Community Enterprise ) presentation to the River Community Council in Nairn. Alastair Noble and his colleagues gave a laudable vision of a possible way forward for the Town's future. One aspect that caught my eye was the possible creation of a new Wetlands centre which Naturally I find appealing. I think Nairn would be an excellent venue for such a place, for we already have the river and sea close by, with many species that visit over the course of the year. Having a Wetlands centre would perhaps attract all kinds of birds and tourists, who would enjoy visiting such a place ! Maybe NICE will get enough support to start putting their vision forward, this maybe the best chance in a generation to get Nairn on the path to renewal. It was pointed out that many born and bred in Nairn are against change, this is understandable and to be expected, especially of the older generation. However like getting old, change is inevitable and has to be accepted in the end, though it may take you out of your comfort zone!
A wetlands centre might attract some of the birds shown.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Getting Stuck In

The cygnets have been getting some flying practice on the river, so I'm told - haven't been there to get some photo shots yet. They are always around for the their food though, and get stuck in when I turn up. (Short vid below eating the wheat and carrots.)

Friday, 21 September 2012

Weekend look back 4 - Steven the Gull

Last year I had the great pleasure of returning an injured Herring gull to the wild after a 13 month rehabilitation. I only took on the young injured gull after some neighbourhood children asked if I could fix it ! I saw the bird dragging a broken wing and frankly didn't give it much of a chance, but thought I better give it a go anyhow. It turned out to be one of the most rewarding and interesting endeavours that I have ever tackled. I used previous  experience, and as much internet information that I could find. I posted the short 6 minute film I made on Youtube, and I recommend you have a look if you haven't seen it before ! 

PS. GREENPEACE has a petition running to make the Arctic a Global sanctuary, and prevent oil drilling and industrial fishing in the melting waters of the Arctic. It's in all our interests to sign this petition and send a message to world leaders !   Please sign.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Sleeping Beauties

Sometimes I am able to get very natural shots of the cygnets, today I was lucky. As the tide filled the estuary the cygnets slept while drifting with the tide, with natural symmetry a majestic scene unfolded.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Riverside News

I had someone call me today warning about a Dangerous dog that attacked and bit them close to the Jubilee bridge yesterday (Sunday). They were walking when a Man about 30, with a light coloured (white /fawn) Alsatian approached, and the dog bit his hand which required hospital treatment. His natural reaction was to hold his hands up away from the dog , when the dog owner told him "don't do that because the dog will attack you" !! The dog then had a go at a woman walker as well. This dog is obviously a danger to anyone who is likely to encounter it and should be leaded and muzzled. The Police would like to trace the dog and owner, so if anyone knows who it is, you could ring 01667 452222 and let them know - the leash the 30 year old man had but did not use, was red coloured.

Seems like the vandals are still alive and well too, since I saw an ironing board in the river today, maybe the flounders are not flat enough yet and need ironing !

The geese are arriving in greater numbers now, bang on time for the annual migration southwards, this heralds the start of Winter in the not too distant future !
The tree cutters were busy between the sewage and road bridges today, it remains to be seen how this project will turn out. I hope they leave the dogwood bushes alone, since they give shelter to small animals and birds over the winter. (Last winters pic of mouse, blue tit and chaffinch below)

 They only need pruning to bring out the coloured twigs in Winter.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Weekend Look Back 3 - Nairn Swans Film

This weekend I thought I would treat my viewers to my Nairn Swans Compilation film. Last year I had a go at making a short film (about 6 minutes long) featuring our Swans, and my Grand Daughter Beth's talent as a singer(It starts after a minute or so) . In view of the fact that she was only 12 when making the recording, I think she's great! Beth starts studies at the Scottish Royal Conservatoire next month, If you would like to hear Beth sing Schubert now , then click on her webpage video. Turn on the sound and enjoy ! 

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Autumn Arrives

Autumnal air sweeps across the country, and a new urgency prompts the birds to feed themselves up for the coming winter. The mother duck with the 5 late ducklings is down to 3,  even at a month old I suspect the hoodie crows got the last two. The cygnets are now 4 months old, and Popeye has regrown his new wing feathers and should be able to fly again by next week. Be ready to observe some short flights along the shore soon ! Some love lessons given out to the cygnets on reaching 4 months old today, short video showing the ducks creating a cacophony of sound below, including the 4 wee call ducks together as usual. The white ducks are beautiful and at last accepted by the Swans !

Monday, 10 September 2012

Bird Dog Birthday

Some of my viewers will be wondering how my dog is doing since she has been confined to the house for the past 5 weeks. She has a leg ligament problem and is 13 today, but I fear her days of longish walks are now over. All dog owners know just how attached we are to our faithful friends and I'm no exception, she is a great companion and a joy to have around. The last 9 years she has shared with me on the river and has been party to all the contact with the birds, outdoors and at home. Even now I can put her in the garden and the birds don't fly off, they know she is no threat. Extra treats today, and hopefully she will be on the riverside again soon !

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Spartan Sparrow

There are birds and there are birds ! Like us, some are smarter than others and it's always intriguing to watch the behaviour of some individuals. Sparrows are common, but when I fill the feeders in the morning, I find their chirping very cheerful. One in particular has decided the best way of getting at the nuts is the direct approach, (Watch the one at the top of the feeder on video clip). also check out some of the past sparrows I've photographed!   

Friday, 7 September 2012

Weekend Look Back 2 - Swallows Arcade

Harbour Street Arcade is being demolished to make way for new flats, sadly this is the end of a Swallows nest site too. Last year I noticed Swallows going in and out of the Arcade entrance canopy, and was delighted to see some beautiful chicks peering down at me when I looked up. This year they started to build there again, but I think the cold weather and lack of insects drove them back south for a while. It was the closest I have ever witnessed Swallows nesting.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Cygnet Flywalkers

Breezy conditions allowed some of the cygnets to fly / walk up river earlier today. They got left behind in the Harbour  while the rest of the family were enjoying a feed at the island.With low water and tide out, they could not wait for the long walk upstream and used the headwind to flywalk to lunch ! They will take to the skies before too long.

Penny is Boss

Having watched the Swans behaviour for years now, it is obvious to me that the Boss of the family is the Pen, she is the prime mover in almost all circumstances. The Cob has his uses, but even he follows she who must be obeyed ! Yesterday Penny instigated the attack on the young swan, to be followed up by Popeye.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Swan Rescue

Today's high winds resulted in a trauma and rescue, for a young swan seeking food and shelter from the gales. After entering Popeye and Penny's territory, the pair of them promptly chased the young swan down the river, it made the mistake of going onto their island but Penny was having none of it ! 

She pinned the young swan to the ground and was joined by Popeye. Normally I would not have interfered, but I knew the young swan was exhausted and was too weak to escape which was all it wanted to do. I picked it up and put it in the river 20 yards away from Penny, to give it a chance to get back to the sea. It was pursued and made another big mistake by going into the harbour, only trapping itself where it was again chased and attacked on the concrete steps by Popeye.
photo courtesy of Dave Shillabeer 

photo courtesy of Dave Shillabeer

 I had no choice but to take it home with the help of Dave Shillabeer who was on hand with his car and mobile phone to call the Scottish SPCA.
After putting it in the Aviary it immediately started to eat the grass on hand, it was ravenous and definitely underweight.

 I pulled a lot more grass and it munched away happily (short video clip below), later - Simon from the Scottish SPCA arrived to take it to join other young swans at a good location along the coast.

A good outcome to a potentially fatal encounter with our Swans !

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Final Duck Tally 2012

Hope I'm not tempting fate, but it looks like the 5 late ducklings approaching the three weeks old mark will survive. This Mother duck has been keeping them close and percentage wise she is about the best survivor this year with 5 out of 8. This brings this years total survivors to 22 with 76 fatalities, although that's only what I have visibly seen, so I'm pretty certain the fatalities are above this figure.
The shooting season has now started, so I'm always pleased to see around 100 ducks on the lower river keeping out of harms way.