Friday, 26 December 2014

Ice Maidens

Heavy overnight frost ensured a covering of ice on any still water, this meant the island moat had a glaze this morning. 

Penny led the way as chief ice breaker, and the cygnets tried nibbling their way along !

 The ducks wisely stayed near the running water at Merryton bridge.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Christmas Island Feast

With a weather turnaround the sun shining and a crisp dry frost, we could hardly get a nicer Christmas day.
The Swans island and moat had a little ice, but not enough to freeze over completely.

 The birds were waiting for their Christmas day Feast , which I was glad to deliver. Wheat grain, grower pellets, carrots, mixed bird seed and wholemeal bread!

 They got stuck in, cackled and quacked with enthusiasm. 

It's a positive joy to see these lovely creatures contented in their environment, we are privileged to have them here. (Short clip below.) Merry Christmas !

Wednesday, 24 December 2014


A very Happy Christmas and New Year to all my viewers.  A Special Thanks to Trust members and George for keeping the birds fed during my illness, good health to all!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Mid-Winter Darkness

The gloom of mid- winter is upon us with weather to match, we seem to have been stuck with the worst type of winter weather, cold wet and windy !
After giving Sari a weeks course of antibiotics in the hope of saving the sight in her left eye I got a bad prognosis today from our avian adviser Sue Hulbert. I sent sue some photos of sari's eye and Sue is of the opinion that the eye sight has already been lost. 

This is a real mid- winter downer for me, the long darkness of winter is bad enough, but the darkness of blindness is far worse.
I can only hope that whatever ails Sari, that it wont spread to the other eye, and maybe the antibiotics will have helped in that respect. I will need to keep a close watch on this beautiful duck.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Harbouring an Otter

This afternoon while feeding the swans in the Harbour, I saw an Otter fishing along the harbour walls.
Unfortunately I did not have my camera, but  you can check out previous sightings by me by typing in the word Otter in the search box on my blog page. This will give you many pages and pics covering the Otter sightings.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Sari Gets Treatment

Some days ago I noticed that Sari one of our light coloured ducks had a bad eye, it was being pecked by some other ducks to stay away. This is normal behaviour because they don't want to catch whatever is ailing the sick duck. Her left eye had a white membrane cover as though infected and going blind, she cannot see on her left side and mostly kept the eye shut. 

I decided that a course of antibiotics might be the only hope of saving the eye. Getting to her is a real problem because it has to be administered orally by way of food. With about 150 birds all wanting to eat as well, it's a pretty tricky business !  I'm half way through the course and hoping it will work, watch this space !

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Happy Families

The daily feed makes for a happy family of Swans and ducks !

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

White Cygnets....Almost

After a long absence from feeding the River birds, I managed to again get up close to my river friends. It was a joy to hear the happy sounds from the ducks, and Penny giving me a long stare as though asking where have I been !

The cygnets are pretty white now, and in great shape, and it looks like the parents will keep them until we are heading for spring.

Monday, 8 December 2014


A BIG Thank You to all the doctors and staff of the High dependency unit and Ward 11 of Raigmore hospital, for the care and attention I received over the last few weeks. I am indebted to you and the NHS.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Nearly COPD It !

Today I was released from Hospital after a severe case of pneumonia in both lungs, frankly at one point I thought I was a goner !

For over 15 years I have suffered from a progressive illness called COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease ) I have coped well with this as long as I did not fall prey to any chest infections.

However, After numerous blood tests during treatment, it transpired that I am extremely susceptible to the dust and dander of pigeons, leaving me open to a condition known as "pigeon fanciers lung." 
Unfortunately this means I will no longer be able to handle and care for sick pigeons, which is a sad state of affairs for me.

The recent care and handling of pigeons was the trigger for this attack of pneumonia, so any future sick or injured pigeons will now have to go straight to the Scottish SPCA 03000 999 999.

I would like to thank all those well wishers and people of good will for their kind thoughts and wishes.
I was so out of it and unable to get online, hence no updates for a while. I am still pretty weak and likely to take some weeks to fully recover.

The Trust has continued to feed the river birds daily in spite of my absence, and proves the wisdom of setting up the Trust for just such an eventuality ! Friend and fellow Trust member George Stephen has been feeding the birds on my behalf, the trust is grateful to George and we all thank him !

The trust still seeks financial support from the public as well as new members, feel free to donate if you can. Thanks.

Friday, 7 November 2014


     I am currently suffering from the flu, so there won't be too many posts during this time. I have only missed feeding the river birds about 5 times during the last 10 years and currently other members of the Trust will take over until I get better.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Weather Takes it's Toll

Miserable weather since we released the ducklings last Thursday has finally cost the lives of 3 of the last eight that were released. The River has been continuously high and the ducklings did not get a chance to familiarise themselves with the currents, which are now fast flowing ever since the last flood changed the riverbed.

   I am particularly vexed about the loss of the light coloured and weakest female that I helped hatch, she needed another few days to be able to fly out of danger. 

The only bright spot today was the fact that the injured Rock dove that was caught by a cat, has made a full recovery and is flying around the house, it will be released tomorrow.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Flight Over Fishertown

Today was the first time I have seen the cygnets having a proper flight around the town.

Right place at the right time, but a pity the skies were so leaden for photos. 

Popeye and Penny were already at Merryton bridge, but the 8 cygnets were happily circling Fishertown several times before making a beautiful approach and landing.

Sequence of shots tells the story.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Last Ducklings Release

The last 8 ducklings were finally released into the river today. River has been too high for the past week but today saw the level drop enough to let them go. Had a few anxious minutes when the lightest coloured and weakest one got swept away with the current and barely made it back to the bank.

They will have to strengthen their legs, get used to the other residents and learn from them. They should be able to fly within a week or so.

It has been a very tiring season for me with several broods to care for since the spring, counting the latest pigeon, 54 birds have been rescued this season so far. I hate to say it, but there is another duck currently nesting, she has been having regular afternoon feeds.

 If she does manage to hatch any, they wont last 2 days in these late season conditions. I will be keeping a watchful eye out for her.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Rock Dove Rescue

Thanks to trust member Elaine MacPhail for rescuing an injured rock dove today. Elaine was working near the town centre when a rock dove walked over to her,  later followed by two cats! Elaine suspected it might have been attacked by the cats so brought it over to me. It had a bleeding chest injury which I cleaned up, and then gave it some antibiotic to combat any likely infection from a cat bite. It seems content to sit in a heated brooder box with plenty of food and water, recovering from a near fatal cat encounter.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Gales Herald Clock Change

Weather forecast for the coming days is strong winds and rain, add the clocks going back an hour and we have the most depressing time of year about to start.

The River birds have been stocking up on quality food provided daily by the River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust

They are about to be joined by another 8 ducklings on Monday, reared since incubation 8 weeks ago.

It appears our last beautiful white duck must have been taken by a predator since I have not seen her since spring.

I had hoped she might have produced some offspring like herself, but this was not to be, If she was alive I am pretty sure she would have returned to the river by now. However we now have about 140 ducks on the river and they will stay on the lower reaches until long as there is food available!

Meanwhile the  4 Royal Pigeon Squabs are continuing to survive and grow.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Red Breasted Mergansers

A sure sign of Autumn and approaching Winter, is the appearance of the red breasted Mergansers in the tidal waters.

There were five today close to the Merryton bridge, but weather a bit dull for really good photos.