Friday, 28 June 2013

Ducklings Saved

Ever since I saw that poor Mother duck with the horrific facial injury I have been haunted with the nightmarish close up images which are too graphic to show here. I tried in vain to catch her yesterday to avoid the suffering which she must have endured. Today I could not see her at all, and the last remaining duckling of her brood was completely on it's own trying desperately to join another mother of two, only to be rejected.
My mission was therefore to unite all 3 ducklings belonging to the injured duck, and get them to safety until old enough to fend for themselves in the river. Finally tonight about 8pm I got my chance to catch the last duckling and reunite it with it's siblings.

 I don't know if the mother is already dead, but I could find no trace of her today, I will keep looking.
I am still aching from yesterday's encounter with the Swans, but getting that last duckling before the crows or gulls makes this a good day.  

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Bad Day on The River

Following my last posting, I was informed about a mother duck with no bill this morning. This is one of the most horrific injuries I have ever seen on a duck in the river. My guess it was caused by an Otter as she was trying to protect her brood. This mother duck had 4 ducklings yesterday but only 3 today, she probably lost her bill whilst trying to defend her youngsters last night.
My priority now is to catch and get her to a vet, and the ducklings into my brooder where I will be able to care for them. I managed to catch one shortly after freeing the swans from fishing line this morning. I have severe bruising to my arms and back, and just to show how dangerous a swan can be if you appear to threaten them or their offspring, I have published the photo of my right arm. 

Make no mistake, if this was a child or weak boned person then it would have resulted in a fracture. Worse still is the poor mother duck who will have to be put to sleep, because she will be unable to eat and will starve to death or die from infection This has been a very bad day on the river !

Hook Line and Pain !

This Morning I was awakened by a call from the Nairn Harbour master Robert Barron, he informed me that two of the Swans were entangled in fishing line in the harbour, one of them was a Cygnet. By the time I got down there they had fled to the Island, and I could see that there was a hook, line and float, tightly wrapped around the Pens leg. My initial attempt to catch the Pen failed, so I turned to the only Cygnet that could not get to the water for it had line around both its leg and wings. This prompted an immediate attack by both Popeye and Penny, who inflicted severe blows on my back and arms. After cutting the line away from the cygnet, I was able to grab Penny and with a struggle managed to get her onto her back where I could get at the line around her leg. All this time Popeye was landing blow after blow on both my ribs and right arm as he circled me trying to hit my face as well. I can confirm that the force of the blows were indeed capable of breaking an arm or bone. Only my size and experience saved me from much more serious damage, but I am certain a child or weaker built person could easily have sustained a broken bone. I may well have a cracked rib and my arm is swollen and badly bruised. The real pain came from popeye's wing joints which were the equivalent of a jab from an elbow. Be warned, don't ever tangle with an angry defensive Swan !  In future I will want assistance to keep the partner at a safe distance while I do any rescue work.

Cygnets at 6 Weeks

Cygnets are surprising many by their rapid growth, this is quite normal at 6 weeks they are almost the size of a goose !

 The grain bill this year will be substantial with 11 swans and I suspect around 100 + ducks to feed.
With Trust members now numbering 70 and more promised, the cost burden will be much reduced.
We have a few ducklings currently surviving on the river, but I won't speak too soon for they won't be totally safe for a while yet. 

The Wildlife photo competition ends on Monday, so I would advise you get the last minute entries in NOW !

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Gull Chick Takeaway

The Dumped gull chicks were taken away by the Scottish SPCA after an overnight stay with me. Other gull chicks on the adjacent roof were enjoying the downpour and sat down to really enjoy it !

One bit of sad news is that the injured duckling with the bad leg has died of a lung complication. It appeared that it had been bitten by a cat and the Vet was of the opinion that the air sac on it's back had been punctured, causing a collapse of the air sac leading to pneumonia. It is particularly sad because the injured leg had healed.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Wildlife Photo Competition

This will be the final blog call for entries to the River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust Wildlife Photo Competition.

 With just over a week to get your entries to 10 Douglas Street, Nairn. IV124DJ. First Prize is £40 + a years Free membership to the Trust. Second prize £20 + Free membership also, and Third prize £10 also with Free membership. Print the Entry form below and send it in with your chosen photos , up to 3 photo's can be entered.

Man Dumps Two Chicks

After a phone call from a concerned resident that two chicks had been left in a box, I went to investigate. The resident saw a man placing a box in Morganti's old entrance at Balmakeith, and on inspection found two Gull chicks inside. When I arrived to put the chicks into a carrier, a young Man turned up to tell me that the chicks had been on the ground in a nearby estate and the adults were dive bombing everybody nearby. Removing them to a piece of derelict property to basically die of starvation or be killed by something, does not seem to me to be the humane way of dealing with the problem. The chicks should have been put back on the roof they came from, or someone should have phoned the Scottish SPCA on 03000 999 999.
Meanwhile I have them at home and will be picked up by the Scottish SPCA tomorrow.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Lost Homing Pigeon

A few days ago I got a surprise in the Aviary, A bonnie white homing pigeon had gone in to get a few seeds.
I noticed it had a ring on it's right leg with the following letters and numbers, NE 4736 and SU13.

 It also had stencilled letters in red on the inside wing.

 If anyone knows who the owner might be, they can contact me by email at it might be possible for me to catch it since it has taken up with a dozen or so feral pigeons who come down for a feed.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Duckling & Woody Progress

The Injured Duckling given to me on the 13th by Hamish Reid, has made steady progress every day, it now has some use of the injured leg. 

The antibiotic given by Moray coast vets and the painkiller I have given it daily seems to have done the trick. I expect it will get full use of the leg eventually, as it grows and learns to adapt and manipulate it.

Meanwhile woody the wood pigeon although free, comes back almost everyday at some point for his favourite sunflower seeds.

He is such a lovable character and plays to the camera, to the point where he wants to fly and land on it !!

Friday, 14 June 2013

Cygnets One Month Old

A few pics of the cygnets at a month old.

Also a reminder that there is only 2 weeks left to get your entries in for the Wildlife Photo competition !

That Time of Year Again

With the nesting season in full swing, it's the time of year that many of us dread due to the carnage of young birds to predators or on the roads etc. Yesterday it was the turn of a gull which I found along the riverside trailing a wing. I took it home and called the Scottish SPCA who promptly picked it up.

 This is their busy time of year with numerous calls about birds having fallen from buildings and road accidents etc. Their new number is worth noting 03000 999 999, for some of you will find injured birds this summer. Three days ago I found another gull bleeding from the chest, it died shortly afterwards. I think the increased traffic on the A96 is adding to the casualty numbers, since birds fly over the bridge and collide with vehicles. 
Earlier today it was the turn of a duckling handed in by one of our long standing electricians. He found it in his garden with an apparent broken leg, perhaps dropped by a gull or a crow.

 I could not determine if it was a break and took it to Moray coast vets who quickly established that it seemed to be a bite to the thigh possibly by a cat or a rat. The puncture wound was infected and was promptly administered antibiotics, I have to follow this up with an anti inflammatory and hopefully the duckling will survive - which is more than can be said for most of the ducklings on the river. One of our Trust members saw a crow take the last one of a brood trying to reach the water yesterday, and I saw a gull take one earlier in the week from the water, seems there is no safe place for ducklings at all.

 At least the Cygnets are doing well with two very protective parents and many watchers.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

How to Hassle a Heron

It made a refreshing change to see the Links ducklings getting a lesson from Mum on how to hassle a duckling Killer. 

 The Heron was doing a spot of Salmon Parr fishing when the ducklings decided to inspect what was going on. 

They got a close up of that deadly beak and the speed at which it can operate !

 The Heron missed out and decided to move to pastures new, only to be followed by the inquisitive ducklings.

Sequence of distance pics tells the story.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Goodbye To Woody

After nearly 2 months I decided it was time to let Woody the Wood pigeon go, and take its chances in the wild. I let him go yesterday after a good meal of sunflower seeds and lettuce, his favourite foods. 

It was a privilege to rear him and experience the joy that comes between man and bird, I will treasure the memory.

Para the spinal injury pigeon decided to come back where the food and board suits him best, he was in the aviary this morning after only one night away.

 Looks like I'll have to keep him as a permanent pal.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Predators 47 Ducks 0

With the nesting season halfway through, the tidal reaches of the river are proving to be disastrous for this years ducklings. So far 47 ducklings have been wiped out by the gulls and crows. The last sizeable brood of 9 were all taken within three days. People keep asking me "where are all the ducklings ? "

It is extremely depressing seeing newly hatched ducklings, taken to feed even more of these predators. Yesterday evening I saw a gull swoop down and pick up one of only two ducklings left on the lower river. I again appeal to those people who continue to feed the gulls on the river to stop doing it, creating a gull colony on the river is bad news for other species. Predation appears to stop at the gulls and crows, to the detriment of other species. The only survivors  are 7 links ducklings that I kept out of harms way in the Aviary for 3 weeks,
before putting them into the river.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Weekend Lookback

The Nairn Cygnets have provided countless photo opportunities for locals and tourists alike. Many will return to their homeland, keen to upload their photos and show them off to friends and family. 

Am always pleased to divulge information about the Swans their offspring and habits, to anyone with an interest in wildlife.

This week has seen tourists from as far away as South Africa and China, as well as local caravan park visitors, all delighted to see our 9 new cygnets.

Here are some of my views over the past week or so.