Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Sunset Swans

At long last we finally get some Indian Summer, with stunning sunsets and sunrise.

 Even the river offered sunset magic to the Swans domain, turning the whole place red /pink !

Monday, 28 September 2015

Pintail Eclipse

Our migrant Pintail is still with us and enjoying the excellent food on offer, wild bird seed, wheat, and poultry pellets.

Originally I thought this was a female but now believe it's a male in eclipse, it appears to be changing and shedding feathers.

If it stays all winter It should develop more striking plumage, I shall watch it closely 

since we both have the daily ritual of meeting for a feed !

Friday, 25 September 2015


The well known fact that Swans mate for life,  is only true if they successfully rear cygnets together. 

Otherwise they do sometimes split to find another mate.

Today was one of those occasions where our happy  lifelong duo decided to preen together....almost in perfect unison !

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Trust Members Success

This may have been one of the worst local summer seasons weather wise, but the River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust continues to grow and do the business of caring for our River birds. We currently have 157 members and all should be proud of the part they play in supporting our river wildlife. The remarkable success and growth of the waterbird population is testament to your contribution - Thank you and well done ! 
I am heartened by the amount of positive comments from local residents and visitors alike who positively love to see our thriving river population.

 In addition to local members we have members from all over Scotland and the rest of the UK, as well as some members around the world. Supporting our wildlife costs the Trust over £2500 a year as well as many hours of voluntary unpaid work every week. As yet, no financial contributions has ever come from our local community council which many people cant understand, since the community and Nairn benefit from the Trusts work and the council have funds available. The Trust is non political and will not get drawn into divisive local politics, we take a pragmatic approach and concentrate on the welfare of the waterbirds and maintenance of their environment

Caring for sick and injured birds, removal of litter, remedial work to the island and moat, and destruction of dangerous alien plant species are some of the voluntary tasks we do.

"Gluey" Seeks Algae

"Gluey" our dominant male cygnet was showing off his wings today, what a fine cygnet he is turning out to be.

He was also seeking out Algae from the river rocks, edible River weed is now in short supply and with the neap tides they don't have easy access to the seaweed until lower tides next week. I have started giving the family some carrots to supplement their vegan dietary needs, all the birds are in excellent health. 

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Perfect Pair

Both Popeye and Penny have finished moulting and re - grown their new feathers, they are resplendent.

Flight training has already started out in the Firth with good weather conditions and no danger of collisions. 

The bonding continues with the traditional head nodding and heart to heart meetings, a perfect pair !

Friday, 18 September 2015

Duck News September 2015

I had the opportunity of a duck count the other evening when they were all settled down for the night - I counted 150. 

Many of the ducks that had been away nesting have now returned minus their offspring !
The crows and other predators have all but annihilated this years ducklings.

Only two female ducks out of 45 that were able to nest, have successfully managed to save 3 and 4 from their broods. 
Well over 100 ducklings were lost to predators that I know of, but the number is more likely to be double or treble that amount.

Even the ones that I managed to help for several weeks before releasing them to the river had a hard time, with about a quarter still being taken, including the beautiful white duck. 

However more than a dozen have survived and thankfully most of those are female. Having done it myself I know just how hard it is for ducks to rear their offspring, they have my total admiration and sympathy. The Trust provides feed for the swans and ducks every day, they each receive an average of around 2.2 ounces of grain per day which I try to distribute as equitably as possible. This is boosted by seasonal pulled grass, carrots and wholemeal bread. To aid good feather growth,  I give Mealworm, lettuce, and thawed garden peas for the newly reared ducklings. We probably have the healthiest water birds in Scotland . 

Not forgetting the over wintering Pintail refugee from the North !

Some people are still throwing their mouldy stale bread to the birds - PLEASE DON'T, it is poisonous to swans and ducks !!  

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Gluey Becomes Born Leader

After 4 months, the cygnet attacked and injured by a Crow has now turned out to be the leader of the cygnets. 

"Gluey" takes after his Dad and is the biggest of the brood, he had his head wound treated and glued together as a tiny cygnet at just a few days old. 

         I expect he will become Squadron leader when the cygnets start flying sorties around the town.

He was Mummy's boy at one stage, being carried around by Penny. It rather proves the point that it is worth saving an individual injured bird, 

you never know what they will ultimately achieve !

Thursday, 10 September 2015

All At Sea - Swans Protocol

An anxious few hours for Penny this morning as Popeye took the Cygnets on an extended sea journey - well along the coast.

Penny was pacing up and down the river calling for her beloved family for over 2 hours. Eventually I spotted them about half a mile away, with Popeye leading them back home.

After entering the river mouth, the cygnets did a short run - flight up the river after spotting Penny who was heading down stream to meet them.

An aggressive posture was adopted by both parties until the usual swan protocols were observed and bonding was complete.

Valuable knowledge was no doubt gained by the cygnets.
Series of pics tells the story.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Pintail Duck

Short video below of Pintail duck trying to eat some wild bird seed in peace.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Last Ducklings Release

With what appears to be our Indian Summer, we released the last of the Douglas street rescued ducklings yesterday. 

Conditions were perfect and the mother and ducklings enjoyed getting to the river.

 Other items of note were the fact that Popeye appears to have sustained an injury to his right wing / side, 

         I am keeping a close watch on him and he appears to be OK at this time.

The Pintail duck is still here and looks fairly settled.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Rare Early Bird

Got quite a surprise this evening while feeding the Swans and ducks, and had a brief double take. 

Must have come in on the recent northerly winds that have been bringing the cold weather.

A Pintail duck feeding happily among the Mallards, something I have only ever seen in January or February. 

These birds migrate south from Scandinavia, Iceland, the Baltic states and Russia. 

Apparently less than 50 pairs breed in the UK and Ireland, so it's pretty rare. This looks like a female or a juvenile, nice to see and hopefully it hangs around for a while.