Friday, 30 August 2013

Flight Training

A fresh breeze today encouraged the cygnets to exercise their wing muscles. 

Over the next few weeks Penny their Mum, will encourage them to use their wings more often.

 The river is so low that during low tide they are limited to a couple of spots where they have enough depth of water to practice.

Below the merryton bridge is one such spot where they exercised today, carefully watched by Mum.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

New Trustee

The River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust has a new Trustee. Martin Shand will take over meanwhile as Acting Chairman of the Trust, after Charlie Gardner stepped down at the half yearly meeting. The Trust has now 85 members, and growing almost as fast as the waterfowl population of the River.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Laid Back Pigeons

They might not be everyone's favourite common bird, but I find pigeons quite appealing with their friendly nature and variety of shades. 

When you gain their trust they can be very laid back, and easily come to hand.

They also like water, bathing, and relaxing in wet grass !

Short video of a pigeon pal below.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Delightful Ducks

Locally I reckon this is the best Summer we've had in living memory, nearly 3 months of good weather ! It has been a good year for the river birds with 49 new Mallard ducklings surviving so far. This looks like the best ever season for duck survival , and is exclusively down to the good weather. I noticed another mother duck with 3 ducklings arrive on the tidal stretch today,

the ducklings were about 6 weeks old and full of spirit. They had a go at chasing some adults, which is amusing to watch as the adults scoot away from the little aggressors.

Ducks are delightful creatures, and many are now gathering on the lower river now that the breeding season is all but over. Yesterday I took a short video prior to feeding them, the clamour below shows how much they look forward to their food !

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Cygnets Love Lessons

The cygnets are now 3 months old, and incredibly almost the size of their parents ! 

Today they had a love lesson from Mum and Dad which always seems to start around the 3 month mark every year. Popeye asserts his dominance giving a series of deep grunts which reverberate all around and through the water, and the cygnets respond with much head nodding and cheeping. 

Short video of this interesting ritual below.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Nestbox Cleaning Time

The Three Nest boxes I put up a few years back have proved their worth, by producing Blue tits and Sparrows.

One of them I thought was not being used because of it's location close to my door, but this year I saw Sparrows coming and going with nesting materials. 

Having checked the RSPB website on when and how to clean out the nest boxes, it appears that from now on after the nesting season is the time to sterilise them and make ready for next season.

Pouring boiling water into the boxes should kill any parasites, then let them dry thoroughly. They might be used over the winter as shelter, if a little wood shavings or hay is put inside.

Monday, 12 August 2013

The Good The Bad and The Lovely

This has been a good year for the river waterfowl, the Swans have produced their best ever brood and the surviving ducklings to date number 47, the best year ever !  A combination of factors coming together made all the difference.

The biggest of these was the weather, a cold spring looked like it was going to be a repeat of the last couple of years and the ducks delayed nesting, then the summer arrived. Above average temperatures meant plenty of insect life, short warm nights, and lots of algae and weed growth in the river. It also meant the crows were finished feeding their young before all the ducklings showed up on the river. 

Record low water level, and probably the best summer we have had since the 70s, and hopefully it's not over yet.

The recent bad was the death of Faith, the mother duck who lost her Bill. Then the fact that my beautiful woodpigeon Woody has probably been killed by a predator. 

It is now 3 weeks since he last came back for his favourite sunflower seeds and lettuce. This means the two wood pigeons that I reared successfully are both gone. He was a remarkable bird that crossed the divide between man and bird, and I miss him a lot.

He survived several months in the wild, and I thought he might be lucky and avoid being killed, even though he was never taught survival by a parent bird. 
The lovely, are of course the waterfowl and ducklings in particular,

they are endearing creatures and the more I study them the more interesting they become.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Cygnets and Rescued Ducks Progress

The cygnets are now into the final stage of development with the growth of their wings, the final step before flight. They have been strengthening their legs by zooming along like paddle steamers !

The new flight feathers are sprouting out and can be clearly seen in the sequence of shots, 

there is also a short video clip below.
I was also delighted to see one of the rescued ducks from the Halloween brood last year, arrive with 4 ducklings earlier this week.

She has lost 2 but hopefully will hang onto the remaining two. 

She is inexperienced like her sisters Sari and Jo, one of whom lost her brood, but new mothers often lose their first brood.
It's satisfying to see a rescued duckling going on to lead a normal life on the river !

Monday, 5 August 2013

Faith's Babies Return To The Wild

After the tragic demise of Faith, the duck that lost it's bill to an Otter, her offspring were returned to the river today. She had 3 surviving ducklings, I reared alongside 4 motherless ones for the past 7 weeks, it was time to introduce them to the other young ducks on the river.

One of them is a female, so hopefully Faith will live on ! 

Meanwhile on the way home I discovered yet another injured pigeon wandering out of the Candy cabin on the brae. It appears to be a young one that may have been hit by a car, right wing drooping but not broken. 

I will give it some TLC for a few days and see how it goes.

Swan Family Wildlife

The Swan Family continue to attract attention with such a large growing brood. Penny has finished molting and grown her new flight feathers, and should be able to fly again by the end of the week.

Popeye has just started his molt and will be grounded for 6 weeks. They molt separately, so that one can always fly to defend the cygnets.