Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Journeys End

After an extended journey of two and half weeks , the Links Mother duck with the first 15 ducklings finally made it to the river.

The detour via the River Trust Aviary, will at least have given the ducklings a chance of survival. 

The second brood of 13 ducklings are now down to one after 6 days in the river, It's tough being a duck. With the help of Trust member George, we transported the mother Duck and her 15 ducklings to a safe spot away from the single Drakes. 

This should give her a chance to choose whether to take the ducklings upstream or down the river without unwanted attention from the drakes. It will be interesting to see where she goes, and how many survive over the coming weeks.

George tells me he spotted another duck with 5 ducklings near the granites this morning, lets hope some of them survive.

UPDATE. I saw the ducklings tonight minus one already, and the mother who had 13 has lost them all. Short vid of the ducklings below.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Pigeons and Ducklings Progress

With Winter clinging on to the North of Scotland, the wildlife are still looking for food to get through the cold nights. The rescued pigeons have no such worries since they are indoors and being fed well. The paraplegic pigeon is still recovering after 6 weeks, the right leg is more stable and he is now able to not only fly around the house, but he even managed to fly back into his box which required a lot of skill. He sometimes sits at the window watching the pigeons in the garden and is keen to join them. I will let him go when the weather improves and feeding is abundant, where his chances of survival are at an optimum. When I found him paralysed and blood running from his beak, I was pretty sure he was a goner - yet again TLC and the will to live won the day.

As for Woody and Alan the two woodpigeons that I've had for 2 weeks, they are strengthening their wings and now look like two young woodpigeons. They have grown so fast and will soon be fledged. Short video below.

The 15 rescued mallard ducklings will be released this week into the river, hopefully now with a better chance of survival.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Pigeons Move to Number 10

Woody and Alan the young wood pigeons are now too big for the size 6 shoe box, so have now moved them into a size 10. 

Introducing them to the recovering paraplegic pigeon, I put them into his large box, however he pecks them if they get too close. It's a bit of company for him and he quite enjoys them being around. 

They are preening and starting to peck at the wild bird seed, so getting the idea of how to feed themselves. (short vid below)

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Progress Report

All systems are go on the bird recovery front, the ducklings are doing well and gaining in size and weight, Mum can no longer keep them all underneath her wings. They will soon be too big for the Crows to carry off, and getting them away from their Mother is key to their success. The 13 that hatched in the river less than 72 hours ago, are now down to 6 this morning, they are all likely to disappear with the increased cold weather forecast.

 The Swans are still incubating, Popeye is very attentive and as soon as he saw Penny stand up he raced over to the nest. A ten minute break for a wash a drink and a quick bite, while Popeye kept the clutch warm.

Woody and Alan the young wood pigeons are also doing well, and will soon need a bigger shoe box ! Their wings are developing fuller feathers. (short video below.)

Monday, 22 April 2013

Healthy Swans

Holyrood Swans have captured a few headlines last week in several National newspapers. It seems the Swans at Saint Margaret's Loch in the capital have been getting fed too much White bread, which can endanger their health. I have long encouraged people here not to feed our swans white bread, wholemeal has at least some nutritional value.

Having experimented over the years with various vegetables and foods, and got to know what they like and what they thrive on. Their natural food is river weed, with grasses, algae and seaweed. These are not always readily available, depending on seasonal and tidal conditions. Many of you will have seen me pulling fresh lawn grass during the summer, as well as tender young dandelion leaves. 

From September through to April Our Swans get only the best, with Wheat, poultry grower pellets, mixed seeds, carrots and wholemeal bread. This varied diet means we have probably the best kept and healthiest Swans and waterfowl in Scotland ! 

The proof if any were needed, lies in the cygnets they produce each year and their condition  when they leave the river - Not to mention the superb look of our swans at any time of the year! This endeavour costs about 25 hours a week in time, and around £1500 a year in feeding. Another good reason to join the River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust to help maintain these beautiful birds and all the waterfowl too !

Sunday, 21 April 2013

New Arrivals

This evening I spotted the first new ducklings on the river this season, as always they are gorgeous. There was also a lot of Martin activity on the lower river indicating that there was some insect life available at last !

Warmer temperatures are sorely needed to get some insect life and a bit of growth, which has now started.
As always, can I remind people if they see the ducklings PLEASE DO NOT THROW BREAD AT THEM, this will only bring the gulls and Crows onto them, and in any case young ducklings cannot eat bread !

 I counted 13 , lets hope the number does not live up to it's reputation this time.

Meanwhile A short vid clip below of the first rescued ducklings having a bath at home.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Woody and Alan

The Two Squabs = Young Wood pigeons, (Woody and Alan) are doing well in spite of my inexperience with young nestlings. They seem to be growing fast on the diet of liquidised wild bird seed, wheat  oats, chick starter and lettuce.
I have now started to give them some of the solid mashed  residue from the liquidiser, messy but getting them used to solids.There's no doubt caring for young birds is messy but rewarding !  Short vid below prior to feeding.

Meanwhile the Mother duck and 15 ducklings are also doing well and starting to grow.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Ducklings One Week On

The Ducklings are  now one week old and thriving, having enough room under Mum's wings is now getting tougher to find.

The past week would have been pretty disastrous if they would have made it to the river, with high winds, spate, crows, and no insect life.

The temperatures are now rising and most of the Ducks have headed off to nest somewhere, we still have a dozen or so wise Mothers who are waiting for better times still.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Rock of Wages

Today heralds the addition of massive rock armour to the sewer outfall at the Merryton flats. Apparently Scottish water have decided that this barrier is needed, to prevent erosion by the tidal race and any floods washing the outfall away. Personally I think this is over the top and a waste of money. The money would have been better spent preventing what's coming out of this "grey water" sewer! 

During yesterdays rainfall I could see quite a few sanitary items floating by and the smell was obvious too. 

I thought these items were filtered out, according to Scottish water? Perhaps the River Community Councils new found pride in the riverside might take this up with SEPA and Scottish water ?  
Having spoken to the Contractor today, I was assured that this rock would be covered over completely. If not, it would be a perfect Haven for Rats and Mink, to the detriment of everybody, as well as the wildlife!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

How to Feed a Nestling - Squab

My trepidation with feeding the squabs has subsided, having fed them every 4 hours since taking them in. I opted for liquidised food delivered by syringe, since they are still a bit on the young side for eating on their own. The biggest danger doing this is getting it into their lungs which would kill them. Great care has to be taken with the right length of flexible tube entering from the left side of the bird, and seeing the tube go down into the crop on the right side. Avoiding giving too much in case the crop overflows into the airway. A mixture of lettuce, porridge oats, and chick starter feed liquidised and warm, is what I've been giving them. Will switch to mixed bird seeds a bit later. Short video of how it's done in case anybody has to do it for some homeless and parentless bird.

Meanwhile the mother duck is keeping a close eye on me when I have to enter the Aviary to provide food and water,  the ducklings are warned to keep away, so all is as it should be.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Displaced Squabs

Another call from Moray Coast Vets on behalf of Mr and Mrs Evans who picked up 2 Squabs (young pigeons) at the bottom of a tree. The fierce winds that have been whipping up dust storms over the whole area, must have displaced many young birds blown out of their nests. Pigeons in particular don't have deep nests, they are virtually flat and the gust's today were something else! It was impossible to return these birds to the nest since it couldn't be seen or got at. A quick check on the internet, and a call to Sue our Avian adviser gave me all the info I needed to prepare a liquid feed with syringe and tube.

I will have to feed them every 4 hours a rich mixture since they are fast growing and are usually fed rich milk by the parent. The first feed went ok so far. If it gets too much I will pass them to the Scottish SPCA.
As it happens, Mrs Evans also helped me last year when I treated a duck for parasite infestation. By way of Thanks, I think Mrs Evans also deserves this Year's Membership to the River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust  Welcome aboard !

Meanwhile my other resident pigeon is getting adventurous, and flown into every room in the house, favourite spot is on top of display cabinet.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Fifteen to One

Mother Duck and Ducklings have taken to the Aviary like a duck to water, and they are behaving as though they were on the riverside. 

Every so often she calls them over and gets them warm under her wings and has a nap.

Like any babies they need fed every few hours, so she takes them to the shower tray and they peck around for the chick starter feed, mealworm, and whatever else they can find.

 The gale force winds on the river and snow melt spate would have cost a few duckling lives over the past 24 hours, so I'm glad they are safe and sound meanwhile.

Having 15  ducklings underneath one duck gets more difficult by the day, and if you look you will see a wee one looking out. 

The warm southerly wind has brought the first sand martins of the season, and I saw about a dozen yesterday over the river. 

Two Goosanders were also fishing in the turbid water today.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

First Brood Rescued !

It might be the 13th of April, but this was a very lucky day for Nairns first duckling brood. I received a call from Moray Coast Vets this afternoon from one of my regular blog viewers, Helen Wright.

 Helen had seen the mother duck crossing the links with 15 ducklings in tow, being diverted by some children the duck entered the garden of Ryden House when Helen gave me the call.

 When I got there several people had gathered and Helen agreed to help with getting the family into the box. Fortunately the duck knew me, and readily started eating some grain I offered, surrounded by her brood. 

Knowing the key to success was catching the mother first, I managed without any problems, after a bit of chasing around the shrubbery we managed to catch all 15 ducklings and get them into the box with Mum. I have now placed them in the safety of the Aviary, rather than take them to the river where they would certainly perish.

 The weather is not only cold, but more importantly there is no insect life available for the ducklings to eat, in addition the crows and gulls would have them within 24 hours for the same reason, little food available. 

When they are big enough to survive, I will put them into the river. For her compassion, doing the right thing and showing the Wright stuff - pun intended. The River Nairn Swans & Waterfowl trust gives Helen Wright this years membership to the Trust FREE of Charge, Welcome Helen !  Enjoy the pics and short video.