Saturday, 30 April 2016

Record April Rescues

This month has seen a new record for bird rescues by the Trust. 

Four broods totalling 44 ducklings and 3 mother ducks. Two of the ducklings died through freak accidents, leaving 42 alive and well.

Last year we had 4 duckling broods for the whole season, we have already passed that amount on the last day of April.
Until I get some of these released safely to the river, I will not be able to take any more. The Crows and Gulls have taken two broods of 9 and 10 that I'm aware of, so we are one step ahead of them so far this year. The appalling cold weather would have killed off any chance of these broods surviving, at least now they have a chance.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Aviary Completed

The Riverpark ducklings will soon have a new home, after the completion of the aviary and installation of a coop. 

This has been a frenetic week for me with 42 ducklings and 3 mother ducks to attend to, as well as putting together the new coop and coating same with outdoor weather proofing. The ducklings need to have constant ready access to lots of food and water, and bedding has to be changed as well as water, it all takes up time and it's just as well I consider it a labour of love ! 

The weather is still very cold at nights, and I may wait until we get an improvement in temperatures before shifting the mother and 13 ducklings away from the heat lamp into the new coop which has no heating. Short video clip showing ducklings just after a dip below.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Trust Members Duckling Rescue

Trust members Ian and Shirley Hay of Riverpark, pulled off a great duck brood rescue today. 

This morning they saw a mother duck with 12 ducklings in their garden and creating quite a fuss as she tried to lead them across the road with circling crows and gulls. They kept them safe and contained, doing exactly the right thing by providing a shallow water tray allowing the ducklings to drink.

They spent several hours watching over them and contacted me for the next step in their rescue. After catching the mother and then the ducklings they kindly brought them over where I made room in the outhouse.

They will be transferred to the newly completed aviary and coop within a couple of days.

Meanwhile they have a cosy heat lamp bed, and have survived against the odds, with bad weather and predators waiting to claim them.  Well done Ian and Shirley, and thanks for the Photos !

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Handy Man

The new Aviary is almost complete and will have the door fitted tomorrow. Having 29 ducklings and two mother ducks under care at present,it was vital to have this built quickly.  I looked at our local paper for a tradesman who could do the job and called an advert entitled " We are Handy " advertising house and garden work. I have been pleasantly surprised by "Smiler", the man who it seems will tackle almost anything. 

We agreed a price and I said that it had to be completed this week, he has been good natured, and done a good solid job to my specifications on time - not always the case when it comes to getting things done by tradesmen . 

The weather has not exactly been kind either, with rain sleet and snow today.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Arctic Blast !

Horrendous weather conditions persist from the Arctic, feels more like January than end of April ! 

Being mindful of the exposed position of Popeye and Penny's nest, with no protection from the bitter northerly winds I did what I rarely do - except in extreme conditions. With close to freezing temperatures at night and only a few degrees during the day, I know that Penny will not leave the nest at this stage of incubation.

Reluctantly today I hand fed her while on the nest for which she was truly grateful, Popeye is very protective and although I have cared for them for nearly 10 years, he still puts himself in harms way by guarding both Penny and the nest as closely as you could imagine. It is only the trust that has built up over the years that allows me the privilege to do this on rare occasions.

 Similar ducks allow me to get that close during nesting time when food is vital to egg production.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Aviary Takes Shape

In spite of adverse weather conditions, the new Aviary construction got under way today. After my usual trip to the riverside the weather turned really nasty, with icy squalls of hail and sleet showers blasting up the river. The mother duck that had 10 ducklings yesterday is now down to 4 and looks likely to lose them as well.

 Penny is sitting on eggs amid hail and sleet, and you have to admire these birds having to brave unseasonal temperatures in the middle of the hatching season. I was also told of another duck brood seen walking down the maggot road, survival in these conditions are slim to non existent. If I could save more I would.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Ducklings Danger

Yet another duckling hatching season is upon us, and to the enjoyment of many a mother duck with 10 ducklings arrived at the Island Moat today. Being a sunny weekend and many holiday makers on the go, it is timely to remind everyone of the deadly dangers to these tiny new ducklings. Throwing bread to them is a sure fire way of getting them taken by Crows and Seagulls, PLEASE DON'T DO IT ! They are too small to eat bread and it has no nutritional value to them.

 Their primary food source are flies and algae growing on the wet stones. Crushed dried mealworm has high protein content, and even crushed porridge oats can be put to them, as long as it's close to the river walls where they can feed in safety. There are still some Fishertown residents who throw bread to the gulls, they should be politely told not to do it, ESPECIALLY at this time of year.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Sign of Summer ?

It certainly doesn't feel like it, but like it or not the Swallows and Martins are on the river. I saw the Martins last week, but the Swallows only arrived to my knowledge in the past few days. 

This is the usual time for them but that Arctic air is chilling ! 

Trying to get a shot of Swallows in flight is pretty difficult,  homing in on one then trying to keep pace while pressing the shutter is really the only hope.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Arctic Chill

Once again we get the cold Arctic breeze blowing in from the North.

The Mother ducks are doing their best to make sure their offspring survive, even when they are growing fast. 

The Nurturing Nairnshire funding has come just at the right time, since I will have to buy another coop and build another aviary to accommodate the incubator ducklings in another week or so.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Another Trust Rescue

Another Dramatic Trust rescue this evening when a mother duck and 6 ducklings got into problems with the current. I spotted her earlier in the evening beside the bridge supports, however when she tried to take the newly hatched ducklings up river they kept getting swept back by the current. It was obvious they were getting exhausted and one of them got swept downstream, later rejoined by the brood. It was time to act and with the help of young Lucy Lansdell I waded across the river and managed to catch the mother duck first. Lucy encouraged the ducklings to stay near the side so as not to be swept away down stream, this gave me time to bag the mother and then catch all 6 ducklings. It was exhausting for me, but a successful rescue mission. This means I now have 3 broods totalling 30 ducklings under care.The crows and gulls at Merryton bridge have so far been thwarted this season.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Cute Ducklings

Some cute duckling pics, 

short video clip below, preening after they had their bath.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Merganser and Goosanders

Only yards apart today were a pair of Goosanders and a Red breasted male Merganser.

 Happily preening in the rare sunshine. Goosanders not yet nesting....wise birds I think !

Sunday, 17 April 2016

First Bath

The incubator hatched ducklings had their first bath today, thoroughly enjoyed it as you would expect. Had to make the water tepid, and only give them a about 10 minutes until they get a little older. I'm really pleased we have 2 golden ones they will keep each other company and not be the odd one out.
One duckling has a serious problem which I only discovered yesterday, it has slipped tendons on both legs and is unable to walk or stand. It may have been the fact that hatching was delayed by a few days because of the immersion in cold water. 

This may have resulted in distortion within the shell. I have slipped the tendons back where they belong and bandaged the legs straight for the moment. It means hand feeding and watering it frequently throughout the day, will consult the vet tomorrow to see if anything further can be done.  Ducklings first bath short video below.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Keeping Warm

The birds are feeling the cold, and I pity any that have hatched in the wild in recent days. 

The 13 newly hatched ducklings are keeping warm together, and the Mother duck in the Aviary is doing her best to keep her 12 under wraps too !

Even Popeye was breaking the cold northerly wind for Penny on the nest, hopefully this cold spell wont last too long. Amazingly I spotted some Sand Martins arriving today !

Friday, 15 April 2016


After 3 days hatching, I awaited the final duckling to hatch from the incredible 14 egg survival saga. With bated breath it finally broke free, and I was overjoyed to see yet again another golden duckling !  
One of my previous posts was entitled the miracle of eggs, only days after that, the trust rescued 14 eggs on the 6th of April.

 Today all 14 eggs have hatched and the ducklings are feeding happily by themselves. 

Considering these eggs were under icy water for several hours with less than week to hatch, is truly a miracle of survival. Short video below showing feeding time.

Thursday, 14 April 2016


This morning my wishes have come true, a beautiful pure gold duckling appeared from one of the saved eggs. I Knew that the mother was carrying Blondie's DNA, and her offspring might produce a white duckling. When first hatched these ducklings are pure gold but turn white by 6 weeks old.

Yesterdays first hatched duckling was stealthily introduced to the mother in the Aviary last night as she settled down for the night.

After a talk with Sue our Avian adviser, who suggested I should do this after dark since the mother was unlikely to move or reject the new addition.

It worked perfectly and this morning all 12 ducklings  were happily feeding together. I did think of introducing more tonight, but may have to cancel the idea now that we have a white one !!  It looks like I will have to play mum to the remaining hatched ducklings for the next 2 months, some of which have still to appear. Blondie may have been killed last week, but her beauty lives on !!