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.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Royal Baby Pigeons

Four of the baby pigeon squabs from the royal hotel apartments are doing OK, but sadly the oldest one died. They had a few fleas which I have treated, and seem to be thriving on a feed mix of chick crumb starter, porridge oats, mealworm and garden peas all liquidised together with water.

It's a bit daunting handling the smallest one for feeding. I think they are all from separate parents since they appear to be different sizes - all one family now, short vid clip below.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Royal Squabs

An afternoon visit from Donald the caretaker of Royal Hotel apartments with a royal surprise. 

Workmen fixing the attic ceiling area came across 5 baby pigeons (squabs). The parent birds have been using the broken skylight to access the attic for nesting. Having reared squabs last year I knew I could take care of this lot although 2 of them are tiny and about 4 days old, another one is half grown, and the other two are developing their spiky feather shafts. Fortunately for them, my last years experience will mean they have a good chance of survival.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Flood Woes

Last weeks flood completely reshaped the entire river, with massive trees and amounts of destruction wreaked along the riverside.

The Swans Island moat has many tons of gravel dumped into the top half, which will have to be removed for the Swans safety.

 I also noticed today that a large piece of wire mesh has been torn from the base of the Merryton bridge, which is also a danger to the swans. Scottish water will have to rectify this ASAP before we have an accident !

A massive tree is lodged on the old mooring pole, must weigh at least 5 tons and probably shifted thousands of tons of gravel on the way down the river!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Stranded Marine Animals

This time of year can sometimes find seal pups or other marine animals on the beach, and people often feel they should do something when faced with an apparent stranded seal pup, or other marine animal like the dead porpoise below.

However one of our local Trust members who also happens to be involved with Marine animal rescue, has sent me the following information poster that gives very useful advice and contact numbers.

I would recommend viewers to take note of the advice and numbers for future reference on this subject.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Flood Casualty

With the river now receding after the big flood it now becomes possible to see the riverbed changes. Huge volumes of gravel have been displaced and washed downstream, and the course of the river has changed yet again .

The moat protecting the Swans island has been partially filled in by tons of shingle blocking the supply of fresh water to the moat. This moat overflow also helps keep the area near the harbour toilets free from foul smelling drain effluent gathering near the toilet wall. The gravel will have to be cleared to protect the Swans nesting site, and prevent stagnant water building up in front of the island. I will carry out a thorough inspection when the river drops further.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

All at Sea

After another deluge the river was almost as bad as the August flood with a raging torrent carrying trees and all kinds of debris into the Sea.

With a heavy swell the swans almost got caught out on the shore, with the injured cygnet getting separated and marooned on the beach at one stage.

It was unable to get over the breakers but eventually rejoined the family after being chased by a dog.

All managed to return to the harbour in the afternoon, 

while some of the ducks took refuge on the swans island

Monday, 6 October 2014

Cygnet Has Lucky Escape

After receiving an emergency call about one of our cygnets today from our regional dog warden Angela Taylor, I feared the worst because of the gale force winds and potential for flying accidents.

Apparently one of the cygnets landed in harbour street and was then chased by a dog into a riverside garden from which it could not escape. Fortunately it was watched over by Angela and one of our trust members until I arrived on the scene. 

After a quick inspection it appears that other than a minor cut to one of it's feet and some displaced feathers, there was no serious injury and I was able to return it to the family in the river. This is the most dangerous time for young cygnets that are inexperienced flyers, with Autumn gales flying accidents are a common cause of death and injury.
My thanks to Angela for her concern and quick response.

Friday, 3 October 2014


Managed to catch a quick shot of a Mallard pair in flight, 

as well as the Cygnets doing their fly / run up the river last week. 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014


After yesterdays ducklings release, I was keen to see how they had survived their first night on the river, and was delighted to see them all together. What was even more of a surprise was the fact that after 2 months I believe their parents recognised them.

At one point today the ducklings were resting on the shingle and the parents came alongside in the river and spent quite some time observing them. The mother only had them a few days before the big flood in August, but I'm certain out of all the new ducks on the river she recognised them.

In the photos the parents are on the right in the water, and her daughter is sitting on the shingle - and she is her double !  I even think the daughter recognises her mother too ! As a lover of these remarkable birds, this is a real eye opener for me.