Sunday, 31 December 2017


After 5 years the RIVER NAIRN SWANS AND WATERFOWL TRUST has finally ended the year in credit to the tune of £34-10. This was mainly due to membership fee increase, the sales of our Anniversary calendar, and some generous donors.
This is a great relief to me, as I personally cleared the deficit every year for the previous 4 years. 

The 2017 Accounts summary :  Total outgoings from January to December                £ 4540 -94
 Total Income membership fees, donations, and                                     Calendar sales.  £ 4575-04 ,
                                                                                                                           Credit balance       £  34-10 

The Trust is a charitable non profit unincorporated association, and the Trustees are voluntary unpaid positions.

Every Penny raised goes to the care and welfare of the River Nairn Birds and their environment.

The Trust would like to Thank all our members, donors and supporters, here and abroad who have made this possible. 😃 Have a Great New Year !

Saturday, 23 December 2017


Twenty seventeen has been a disappointing year for Penny, having lost her lifelong partner Popeye in September 2016.

We all thought that her new Mate Duke was a godsend, but it transpired that Duke was her offspring and resulted in infertile eggs being laid.

Penny doggedly in vain, kept trying to hatch them. In the end I had to remove the eggs for the sake of her health. Duke was sick several times during the past year and the Trust rescued him twice for veterinary treatment. Two months ago Penny took Duke away to join a flock elsewhere, effectively starting a new life for both of them. She returned about 2 months ago with a new mate and has left Duke to start over. She is still away but returns every couple of weeks to check on the nest site, to ensure that no others have taken it over. I am fairly certain she will be back in the new year with a new mate, ready to nest and once again grace our river with cygnets in the summer.

Meanwhile I thought I would remind everyone of the delightful Swan history, with some pics of Penny and Popeye's last brood in 2016. 

The Trust would like to Thank all our members for their continued support, and wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Enjoy😃

Thursday, 21 December 2017

River Litter

Had a few complaints today from local residents about river litter. Like them, I find it annoying that people still use the river to dispose of household items. This time it was a headboard / unit. Over the years I have removed all sorts from the river, including bicycles, scooters, microwaves, push chairs, and even dead cats. I really wish people would treat the river with respect, show a bit of civic pride, they are the arteries of the Planet !

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Mallard Variations

At first glance looking at a raft of ducks they might all appear the same. However there can be a wide variation and subtle differences between Mallards - one of the most successful species on the Planet.

They can vary in size, colour, feather patterns and shading. We have a few variations on the river. One of them I call the "Minister" due to the wide white band around his neck.

He has recently paired up with a rather light shaded female. It will be interesting to see if she produces any light variety ducklings next season. He has white tipped wings and more white underneath than the usual Mallard drakes.

The bill colour too is often quite varied, as some of the photos show. 

Friday, 15 December 2017

Cold Bath & Bridge Repair

                         In spite of the sub zero Temperatures, it's amazing that some of our local pigeons still like to bathe in freezing water.

                         I was amused at the flock in my garden making use of the pond, so much so that one actually got into the deep water and swam around, never seen that before! 

                        It floated and paddled towards the side and flapped out of the pond. 

On another riverside topic, I finally managed to get Scottish water to repair the Merryton footbridge. There has been a hole on the walkway for some weeks and as usual plenty of moaners who seem unable or unwilling to do anything about it. I am surprised that the Local River Community Council did not take the matter in hand either. I spoke to the Highland council who said that the bridge belongs to Scottish water and had nothing to do with them. I then spoke to Scottish Water and explained that putting 2 traffic cones and a metal plate laying over the hole was pointless, as all of it would be tossed into the river come the weekend ! This is exactly what happened to the sand filled sacks 2 weeks ago. I also explained that people with disabilities, using mobility scooters and sticks were at risk and unable to use the bridge. In addition that litter in the river was an eyesore and spoiling the environment.

Seems they took my complaints seriously and did what I asked, having a permanent repair done today. Well done Scottish water !  

Monday, 11 December 2017

Could This Have Been The First Swan ?

Was fascinated to read about recent fossil discovery on the BBC and in Nature Journal showing an unusual dinosaur bird, thought to have roamed Mongolia 75 million years ago.

                        It is so Swan like and of similar size, able to walk on land and swim and hunt in water.
I have often thought when dealing with Swans that their skin was so dinosaur like

Humans have only been around such a short space of time, so when I see something like this dated 75 million years. I can easily imagine the evolution of Swans - find it a little mind blowing !

Friday, 8 December 2017

Snowy Scenes

As expected, the stormy winds have decreased and the snow showers have arrived. 

Was pretty chilly overnight and not much warmer today. Snow is the big enemy of the birds and means little access and lean pickings.

The Pied wagtail that often feeds on the garden pond had an easier time, being able to walk onto the ice and pick up the dried Mealworm that I put out for it.

The river birds got their share too, with no fear of ice on fast flowing water, the wind chill from the north still numbs my fingers though !  Short movie clip below after feeding time.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Not So Sweet Caroline !

Storm Caroline arrived as forecast across the North of Scotland today. Gusts up to 90 MPH have been sweeping across the north and on the exposed coasts of the Moray Firth. The riverside did not escape, although had a bit of shelter from the nearby housing.

Penny, Duke and the 200 ducks were hunkering down at the Merryton bridge, patiently waiting on their daily rations. Between the short daylight hours and high tides I am feeding them once a day with about 25 lbs of grain and seeds. 

Penny and duke filled up and got their heads down, getting into the sheltered lee of the bridge supports. Storm Caroline should move away by tomorrow, followed by snow showers and polar winds. After recent mild winters, I think were in for a hard one this time.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Residents Return

After 6 days Penny and Duke flew back together to the river this morning.  This came as quite a surprise to me, as six weeks ago it looked like Penny had got herself a new mate. Six days ago she and the new mate appeared to escort Duke out of the River for good.

This might only be temporary of course, but Duke was grunting and trying to bond with her today. Perhaps the new mate was just too young and unable to show the power required to chase Duke away.

Penny and Duke look absolutely stunning and in really good health. There will be much more happenings before the new season gets under way, as there will be challenges for the nest site in the new year.

Has Penny just decided to retire with Duke, or will she persist and try and get another mate? this space !

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

A December Day

With our resident Swans away, things seem quiet on the river.

However life goes on for all the other wildlife. Yesterday we had a new swan visitor checking out the river and island, looked like a single male.

Today the Seal taking advantage of the Spring tide, for a meander well up river, being closely watched by the mergansers and ducks.

A typical December day.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Penny Pops Back

After a further 2 weeks absence, Penny and her new mate Slim returned to the Swans Island this morning.

Penny's main priority was to escort Duke away from the territory.

Duke initially tried to challenge the pair, but was swiftly put down by Penny who showed her aggression with wings up and head back.

As I suspected Penny will keep a check on the territory right through until nesting time.

Slim is still following Penny's lead. Sequence of shots tells the story.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Sparrowhawk Threat

The cold weather means food is vital for survival over the winter. Some birds prey on other birds of course, and a regular local killer is the Sparrowhawk. 

They are fast and clever, and home in on other bird species at every opportunity.
Today Disco and Limpy would have been on the menu given half a chance.

As I looked out of my window I saw the Hawk sitting on the ground just 2 feet from the aviary staring at my disabled ducks, who were cowering under cover in the Aviary.

When I tried to take a photo it took off, but shortly after landed on top of the Aviary roof - trying to find a way in !  It even started jumping on the wire mesh to see if it could get through !
I am going to have to be very mindful of the ducks safety this winter !

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Disabled Duo

Disco and Limpy the two disabled ducks are slowly getting closer.

However Disco is still not 100% accepting of Limpy, who has only one good leg. He is getting more mature looking and can pretty much do everything - other than walk on two legs. I am still hopeful they will be able to mate in the spring !

These two would not survive in the wild, so the Trust has given them a life together in the safety and comfort of a sanctuary.

Meanwhile on the river, the swans have gone for a winter vacation, who can blame them with a bone chilling northerly wind blowing upstream !  Again, I'm sure they'll be back well before nesting time.