Friday, 29 July 2016

Offending Hook

Just received this photo of the Hook that was removed from the Cygnets throat. This was a dropper fly Hook, the other one I removed from the cygnets side was a double fly hook. Makes me wonder if this was a deliberate act  - How would the tail fly get stuck in the cygnets side, and then the dropper swallowed by the cygnet ?

Every Which Way - Still Not Loose

Our rescued cygnet is doing well, in spite of the fact it had a hook removed from it's throat and has sutures.

It has spent the last couple of days picking at the suture from every angle, but fortunately has still not managed to undo it ! Having grabbed it for treatment, it is keeping well clear of me, so it would be difficult to catch again. 
Hopefully it will heal quickly and it won't be necessary. 

Meanwhile it was well enough to join in a quick spurt on the river, and preen beside Mum.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Rescued Cygnet Reunited

Moray Coast Veterinary Nurse Michelle, delivers the recovering cygnet to the care of River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust at Nairn Harbour.

The excitement was obvious, as the cygnet spotted Mum and the rest of the family. 

Penny gave me the head nod protocol and I did likewise as I put the cygnet into the water.

The cygnet was delighted to be back on home territory, and after the initial welcome from the siblings it was time for a wash and brush up.

After the ordeal of the operation to remove the fishing hook from it's throat and the stress of separation, it's relief was plain to see. The only worry I now have is the fact that it started picking at the dissolving sutures, 

hopefully it wont succeed in re - opening the wound, a careful daily watch will be needed.

The Trust would like to thank Moray Coast Vets, and The Scottish SPCA, for their assistance.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Cygnet Rescue

Following previous post, a few pics showing the rescue operation on the riverside. 

Joe Telfer Founder of the River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust, assisted by Inspector Anne Shewan of the Scottish SPCA as they examine the injured Cygnet.

After removing a double fly hook from the left side, we attempted to trace the nylon line into the throat. It was obvious there was a hook on the other end, and veterinary surgery would be required.

Penny the Mother was protective and concerned, but Inspector Anne kept her at a distance to avoid her using her wings and injuring her new feather growth. We decided to bag the cygnet and take her to Moray Coast far so good !  Photos kindly supplied by Morag Paterson the Trust Secretary. 

Operation Cygnet Rescue

One of our Cygnets was looking miserable and not feeding yesterday evening. After careful observation I saw nylon fishing line going from the side of it's bill down to it's left side.  This meant a rescue operation and probable removal of hook and line. I arranged the rescue with back up from Inspector Anne Shewan of the Scottish SPCA Inverness today. Knowing the best chance to catch the cygnet was at feeding time, sure enough the capture was easy enough, but my worst fears were realised. Not only did the cygnet have a double fly hook stuck in it's left side, but the nylon line was down it's throat and would not budge. After I removed the external hook,  Anne took it to Moray Coast vets, where they determined that another hook was lodged in it's throat.

UPDATE: Anne has just informed me that the operation was successful and the hook and line was removed.
The cygnet is now on a drip and antibiotics, and will be kept overnight for observation. More details tomorrow.
I dread irresponsible fishing around the harbour and lower river at this time of year.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Penny's New Look

Our resident Swan Matriarch Penny, gave me a full frontal of her new Feather growth.

She has finished moulting and the new feather growths are now all in place. It will still be another couple of weeks before she is capable of flight again. 

Crow Deterrent and Ducklings

Being of a certain age I draw on life's experiences and recall the days when farmers found it necessary to hang dead crows on their fences to protect their livestock. With this in mind after the loss of Blondies ducklings last week, and previous success on the Swans island, I hung 2 dead crows on the island strip used by the ducks - and a favoured killing ground of the Crows.

Our last remaining river brood of 5 ducklings and their mum have made quick use of this windfall, and now park themselves directly under the hanging dead Crow !! (Pic above ) Out smarting the Crows seems to be the only option to help our vulnerable water birds. I also observed an article on BBC website about the New Scientist discovery that ducklings are capable of abstract  thought. I think witnessing our ducks on the riverside sometimes confirms this.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Woody Gets a Mate

Woody the wood pigeon injured by a crow is recovering well and his new feathers have almost completely grown back. As luck would have it, he will soon have a mate for company after losing his sibling to the crows. Our regional Dog warden Angela picked up a fledgling wood pigeon from under the railway bridge the other day, it was unable to fly and in danger of being run over.

She passed "Angie" over to me, despite having lost a few feathers and only just learning to walk It's doing well. When ready I will put her beside Woody in the aviary until both are fit for release. Well done Angela.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

The Last Five

Out of 6 broods hatched on the lower river only 5 ducklings remain to date. The Hoodie crows as usual have all but wiped them out again. I believe there are ducklings elsewhere that are still surviving, and hopefully will return at a later date. It seems the only way to maintain the duck population is to raise some in safety, until they are too big to be killed by Crows.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Chairman Of The Brood

How to make use of old garden furniture - one chair as duck shelter ! 

Even ducks like to get out of the rain sometimes !

Friday, 15 July 2016

Trust Still Busy

Although late in the hatching season the Trust is still busy looking after the birds.

Currently caring for a mother duck and her 11 ducklings, also 8 ducklings without the mother. 

                   In addition the white duck, wood pigeon, and bantam call hybrid duck, and a young Herring gull injured by a car.

                                 I also have 5 bantam call duck eggs in the incubator, as potential mates for the lone bantam hybrid. 

Having candled them a few day ago they are alive and well at this early stage.   So far this season the trust has cared for 61 ducklings, this is the greatest annual amount since the formation of the trust three and half years ago.

Thursday, 14 July 2016


The young Red breasted Mergansers are still on the river, and quite a sight when fishing together.

Short movie clip below.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016


After yesterdays joy on seeing Blondie and her brood, I am devastated to see her alone today with all her brood gone !  In my 12 years on the river it is unprecedented for eleven ducklings to disappear in one night. If anyone knows what happened to them, I would appreciate any information regarding their disappearance.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Blondie Brood

Yet another joyous day, as Blondie turned up with a brood of 11, none of which are Blond. She has been nesting late, after the death of her sister earlier in the season.

Hopefully hatching later will be to her advantage, as there is much more cover and food available for all species.

In addition all the Drakes are moulting and she is less likely to be pounced on. She was reared by the trust three years ago and successfully had some ducklings last year, initially cared for by the trust. 

This season she will have to do it all herself, as the trust is fully committed at present. I watched today as she warned off some interested Drakes, her biggest threat will be Crows and Gulls.    

Are Gulls Getting Smarter ?

Four years ago I did a posting on Gulls after the usual summer gurns about the mess they create etc. 

One of the photos I then published above, showed a gull getting easy access to a litter bin. I passed the same bin today and the gull was still able to access the bin - even though it had been moved away from the wall that it previously used for access.

 Quite simply the bin has not been designed to be bird proof, a simple sharp conical top would prevent the gull from gaining access to the bin. However we still need to make sure bins are not overflowing and emptied in good time.

                              I still think my posting of 4 years ago is as valid today as it was then.

As for gulls getting smarter, I watched a black backed gull pull a hefty salmon from the water today on the riverside, then joined by a mate for a lovely salmon meal !

Thursday, 7 July 2016

River Pal Triumph

Got a fabulous surprise this morning whilst feeding the river birds. One of my most trusting ducks who eats out of my hand turned up at my feet with 10 beautiful ducklings ! 

She was as usual expecting to be hand fed and I obliged, the little ones were allowed to run around my feet and I was honoured at this show of trust.

This is a real triumph for her because I know she was nesting earlier this April around the harbour, but something must have happened to her clutch and nest. She had been displaying all the signs of nesting but after some weeks ended up at the Merryton bridge.

However over the past few weeks I realised she was again nesting and hoped she would succeed - today I was overjoyed at her success. The Crows have been particularly active in the past few days and 3 separate broods have lost ducklings. With this in mind I took the decision to relocate my river pal and brood to the Trust safe house meanwhile.

This has a particularly happy ending for the duckling brought home by a cat, for I have just added it to her brood and she has readily accepted it ! I will return the other duckling to it's mother and brood tomorrow ! This is one Pal who deserves to succeed and beat the crows ! Short clip below, minutes after entry to the safe house.