Wednesday, 31 July 2013

More Quackers - UPDATE

UPDATE ! At 9pm when I left the river last night the mother duck had all 13 ducklings. At Eleven o'clock this morning she only had 4. 

It seems my advice and warnings are again being ignored, and someone has been feeding the ducklings to the gulls ! When are people going to wise up and stop feeding the gulls, and throwing bread on top of day old ducklings !
Another fabulous Summer day, and more wildlife joy to be admired. Conditions have been ideal for the last month, and some mothers do have them - at the right time.

This mother duck came from around the Swans island area, and gave me a good look at her brood of 13 ducklings. 

Hopefully she will keep them safe and away from danger.

If you happen to see them, PLEASE don't throw bread at them, this will only result in gulls taking the ducklings. Otherwise photograph, admire, and enjoy by all means.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Wildlife Woes

There seems to be a spate of young gulls getting run over this past week, I have had 3  taken away by the Scottish SPCA. One of them was left in my garden by someone today. If you see any injured birds, the easy to remember number of the Scottish SPCA is 03000 999 999.
 Yet again one of the cygnets was caught up in fishing line - again at the harbour entrance while they were eating river weed, it was pure good fortune that it was able to get free. When I pointed this out to a local angler I got a mouthful of threats and abuse, and tried to blame me for feeding the swans in the first place ! Fortunately the Harbour master was able to remove the line the following morning. The folly of allowing fishing at the harbour continues, to the detriment of the wildlife.

 Then this evening 2 canoes came right up the river chasing all the wildlife upstream. The river is the lowest it has ever been and in no condition for canoes, or angling for that matter.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Cygnets Bathtime

Today sees the first rain for many weeks and many will be desperate for more. The past month has been a record breaker,  and the river is at a record low level. Duckling numbers have improved of late with another 6 turning up recently. This takes the total surviving to date to 38 with  65 fatalities. The gulls and crows have all but finished feeding their young, and the hot weather also helps the ducklings survival too.
We may get a few more late arrivals, so this could turn out to be one of the best years for ducklings, in spite of the bad start. 
Meanwhile, Summertime and the livin is easy for the Cygnets enjoying a bath! (Short video below)

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Keeping Cool

The fabulous summer continues, best I can remember for a long time! It suits the wildlife too, plenty of insect life and less food needed because of the heat. The river level is the lowest I have ever seen, and the waterfowl enjoy the ability to keep cool.
 The ducklings come into the hall or under a bush for the shade. 

Woody my beautiful wood pigeon, returns daily for his special treat which is sunflower seeds and crispy cold spinach from the chiller, - he just loves it ! Short video below of Woody eating spinach in the cool of the kitchen.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Avian Heroes

After Faiths horrific loss of her bill, several blog followers and sympathisers came forward with suggestions about a prosthetic bill. Sadly Faiths injury was so bad that she died. However, many good contacts have come from this tragedy, and the beauty of the internet is the instant communication and knowledge about every subject under the Sun. One contact I have in Rome, a wildlife enthusiast called Luca who is currently caring for an injured bird, sent me the following pics and short video of an Italian Vet who fitted a prosthetic lower beak to a Canary. He has given me permission to show it on my blog, my thanks to my friend Luca and Dr Emilio Noviello for the pics and uplifting video. 

The Trust have our own Avian Hero in the form of Sue Hulbert, who frequently gives me advice, material, and information on fixing avian problems. 
Sue is currently caring for 13 cygnets, 2 adult swans, 8 hedgehogs, 6 ducks and numerous small birds !  The last photo is of a duckling with a broken leg that she repaired. These people are my Avian Heroes !

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Wha Daur Meddle Wi Me

This weeks local paper The Nairnshire Telegraph has again headlined the subject of Gulls.This is an annual event and has been raised time and time again. I have also posted some comment on the subject of gulls over the years, and for those who are interested you can read my view on THIS LINK 

Faiths ducklings are growing along with the 4 motherless ones, enjoying the summer as long as they have ample supply of fresh water.

 They occasionally like to stay close to me in the doorway if there is any perceived threats. 

Summer weather continues unabated and there are some unusual plant growth dotted around, a particularly stunning Thistle on the riverside caught my eye. Also known as a "Wha daur meddle wi me !"

Monday, 15 July 2013

Goosander Chicks

Yesterday evening I thought I saw a new duckling brood, until I realised it was in fact a Goosander with 8 chicks.

 She was going so fast downstream most of my shots were blurred.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Faiths Babies

Summer is very much here and the river wildlife is enjoying warm days, short nights, and plenty of river weed and insect life. The cygnets are growing at a phenomenal rate, 

and we still have 33 surviving ducklings at the moment.

 Faith's ducklings are doing well at home along with the 4 motherless ones, and enjoying their new double decker pool, 

especially if it has 
lettuce in it ! 

Short video of having fun and cooling off below.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Wildlife Photo WINNERS !

After deliberations, all trustees at the half yearly meeting were impressed by the entries sent in. It quickly emerged that there were photos that stood out, and all agreed on the 3 Winners. First Prize goes to 11 year old Euan Macphail of Harbour Street Nairn, for his well framed and focused shot of a Blackbird, we were all impressed by the colours, focus and framing of the shot, well done Euan !

Second prize goes to 9 year old Matthew Fell of Auldearn, for his well timed shot of 3 barnacle geese, on the move, the enclosed image is taken from my camera so the quality is impaired. 

Third Prize goes to Summer Carroll of Nairn, her shot of a swan on the Black isle is well captured with the light and shade on an aggressive swan posture.Well done to all three, you are now members of the River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust, and your prize money and membership cards will be sent out shortly.

Trust Meeting

This evening the River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust held our first half yearly meeting in Fishertown.
The primary reason for the meeting, was to judge the wildlife photo competition recently completed, for all 8 to 15 year olds in the IV postcode area.
In addition, other Trust business was discussed and updates were given on the Trust's progress to date.
Main points were the fact that the trust now has 80 members, this is well on target set for this year at 100.
Wildlife Rescues carried out this year so far total 11 which included Swans , Ducks, Pigeons and Herring gulls. 
Duckling numbers on the tidal reaches to date, 33 survivors and 64 fatalities, but more birds still nesting at this point in time. 
Due to work business, and family commitments, our Secretary Simone Laraway who has done an excellent job to date, has to relinquish her position. This has been filled by Carla Payne who is a keen wildlife enthusiast who resides overlooking the river. You may spot Carla in the King st co-op where she works, or alternatively in "Calendar Girls" soon to be seen in the Nairn Theatre.( currently under rehearsal ).
The photo competition entries were judged, and all three winners chosen by the trustees, pics and winners names will be published later today .
Meanwhile the trustees felt that some of the entries deserved commendation, so here are two that we thought fell into that category. Apologies, since some of these are photos of photos !

Monday, 8 July 2013

Life Goes On

The air of depression that descended on me after Faith's death has lifted somewhat, with the arrival of 7 new ducklings on the river. 

I also have faith's 7 ducklings to worry about, and how best to rear them successfully. 
I have also been cheered up by Woody who turns up daily and comes into the kitchen for his sunflower seeds and lettuce, he is starting to develop the white neck flash which apparently appears at 6 months.

 Para the paraplegic pigeon also turns up daily along with 2 other pigeons that I rescued over the past year, it reminds me that not all my rescue attempts are failure's.
Our half yearly Trust meeting will be held later this week, and we will pick the winners of the wildlife photo competition, among other items to be discussed.
Short vid of the Swans having a quick race on the river, with Mum showing how fast she can move without flying !

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Faith Has Died

My heart sank when I saw only the ducklings in the Aviary this morning, checking the coop I found poor Faith laying dead in the straw, I was gutted.

Yesterday she was showing signs of failing, no interest in the ducklings and listless. I weighed her and found that she had lost more than half her body weight at just under 1 lb. I think loss of blood, and weight, and the horrendous injury was just all too much to recover from. 
Perhaps if I had caught her sooner she might have stood a better chance. The only consolation I can draw was the fact that she died in the comfort of the coop surrounded by her ducklings, knowing they were OK. 
Nevertheless it is hard to bear the loss of such a brave and courageous creature. Maybe I'm getting too old and emotional for this job.

All Sweetness and Light

The Swans are enjoying the summer days and watching their brood getting bigger and stronger every day. Visitors too are enjoying our river wildlife, like a couple from Nevada today who came across the river by chance and were pleasantly surprised by the abundance of waterbirds at the merryton bridge. 

The cygnets gave them a display of playfulness, and all was Sweetness and Light - after the pasting I got last week! Short video below.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Faith's New Family

After a restful night, I put Faith our new bill-less duck into the Aviary ready to meet her new family, which was her own 3 ducklings and 4 older motherless ones badly in need of a mother.

 The ducklings headed straight for her, and she immediately recognised her offspring and allowed them close contact, she then nuzzled one of the older ones but showed no signs of rejection, it was just as I hoped ! This remarkable duck  is not only brave in adversity but a generous Mother as well.
I tube fed her 3 times today for she has lost a lot of weight, she does not make a fuss and allows me to pick her up without avoidance and struggles, which would normally be the case with a wild duck, she knows I am looking out for her, which is great. I also noticed she does have the ability to take a drop of water at a time, literally a drop, for she has no bottom part to her bill at all.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013


After 6 Days I finally managed to catch the duck with no bill, as expected it was getting weaker by the day and unable to fly this morning. It is amazing that she lasted so long without food with such a traumatic injury as well. She faithfully followed me around every day, pleading for help which I was unable to give - until today.

I consider it a privilege to be able to help this beautiful bird that tried so hard to save her ducklings which cost her bill and the ability to eat. There is an ethical and moral question here if I was a vet, the answer would be simple and clear - put it to sleep. However I am not a Vet and I ask myself if this was a human that lost it's mouth and jaws in a car accident would we put them to sleep ? Clearly the answer is No. I have this ducks 3 surviving ducklings which she saved, she can fly, walk, swim and quack, but currently cannot feed herself. I am prepared to tube feed her in order that she can rear her offspring, perhaps she will develop some way of being able to feed as time passes. I have already trimmed away the dead hanging skin and ragged boney edges left by the Otters bite, in addition given her anti inflammatory painkiller, as well as liquidised food.

 She is now recuperating in isolation and I will introduce her to her offspring tomorrow, along with 4 other ducklings in the hope that she will rear them all. I have named her "Faith", because of the faith she put in me over the past 6 days, that I would somehow solve her plight, this I intend to do.

Many of you will be glad to see a happy ending to what has been a pretty tough week.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Duck Still Alive

Today I was shocked to discover the mother duck with no Bill still alive, she came close to me looking for food but was unable to eat, it was heartbreaking. This evening I tried again to catch her because she came close looking for food, again she was much too quick to take flight. I will probably get her when she is so weak that she can't fly away, it is very frustrating. Ironically after the last attempt to catch her I noticed a seagull on the island trailing an almost severed wing, so I managed to chase and catch it of course.

 The SSPCA picked it up a short while ago. The Swans are back to their old self, and oblivious to the pain and discomfort they inflicted on me a few days ago, 

Think I named popeye more spinach for him !!

Thanks to all those who have wished me well, and offered support for any future rescues.