Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Duke Taken To Vet

Arrangements were made to get Duke to the Vet this morning where I met Simon and Jamie, Scottish SPCA rescue officers at the Swans Island. 

Duke was sitting high and dry on the grass and was easily caught and bagged. I was relieved he was not in the river, since this can be a real nightmare trying to catch them. 

Simon and Jamie  took him to Inverness where he will be assessed and put on a drip, then it will be decided whether he goes down to the SPCA wildlife rescue centre at Fishcross or not.

My thanks to Simon and Jamie for the quick and professional job today.

Penny watched the operation from the moat and saw him taken away. 

She came over for her usual feed afterwards, hopefully she will not be too stressed at his absence, and we'll get him back soon. I would ask all our members to be vigilant for our wildlife, in view of the recent publicity attacks on the Trust in recent weeks.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Duke Sick

Our new Cob Duke is ill, he was perfectly normal on Saturday, but by Sunday he was not eating, and the same again today. To the untrained eye he looks normal but I will have to get him to the vets tomorrow and see what is ailing him. I had a report that some youths were shouting at the swans and causing a disturbance on Saturday night. I hope it is unrelated !

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Swans Island 10th Anniversary

This Year is the 10th Anniversary of the creation of Swans Island. One of the best things ever to have happened to the lower river Nairn. Something that gives me great satisfaction and has genuinely benefited wildlife and humans.

My motivation for creating the island was borne out of love and compassion for the previous pair of swans, who had used the river Nairn for several years to raise their cygnets after hatching near Kingsteps.

In a violent battle over the territory in May 2007 they lost their brood of cygnets, and shortly after the cob was killed after hitting a power line - leaving a lonely Pen .

My relationship with the swans and this Pen, was the catalyst that gave me the idea of a Swans nesting island on the river that would avoid a recurrence of the tragedy.

Approval and permission was sought through Nairn district council, Nairn river community council, Scottish Natural heritage, SEPA, The Provost and Local Cllr Liz Mc Donald, The  H C Inverness contamination unit, and Marine Scotland. All of these had no problem with the project, providing it was done following SNH and SEPA  guidelines, all of which were followed to the letter, permission was granted on July 17th . Work started and was completed in August 2007.

Now 10 years later we can see what benefits the island has produced. 

The swans have nested on it every year and have produced 62 fully fledged cygnets over the last 9 seasons.

There has been at least an equal amount of ducklings also hatched on the island during this time.

Thousands of locals and visitors have spent countless hours observing the wildlife reared, and the Town has become known for it's Nairn Swans. 

The photos show the site before and after the construction.

This was a perfect location for the swans nesting site, the existing spit of  land already had the makings of a nest site, except for the height. 

The shingle material that came out of the moat area was used to create a nesting mound and increase the height. I had to sow some grass seed and transplant a lot of reeds and tall grasses. Being August I was able to get it established enough to bind the topsoil, and prevent it being washed away before any big spates hit it. Conditions set by SNH ( Scottish Natural heritage ) was that no alien plant species should be planted, and that it should be naturalised. The river was unaffected as the site was well away from the Creek. I think some of the locals thought it would be washed away during floods, but I was confident that the location and shape would help it survive. The biggest threat would being hit by a massive tree during a big flood.

We've had quite a few big floods in the past 10 years and this resulted in the moat being filled with stones a couple of times, fortunately no massive trees hit the island proper. The money and work I spent doing it has been repaid ten fold, with the joy and happiness that the Swans and ducks have given me and many others in the last 10 years.  

Before the Swans island, Popeye and Penny tried to nest in the harbour, and also laid eggs on the riverbank, only to be swamped by the spring tides. 

Now the successful island is a refuge and haven for the birds during nesting and moulting, and when high tides and floods sweep down stream. Over the past 4 Years since the Trust was founded, we have spent over £12,000 on the care and welfare of all the river waterfowl, their island and environment now totalling nearly 200 birds. The Trustees are voluntary and unpaid and have received no funds or donations from any of the community councils, and only £800 from Highland Council last year after entering a competition for it. The Trust has members throughout Scotland, the UK and some from around the world. Prior to the Trust I was funding the wildlife care myself, so am very grateful for the Trust members support now. 

With the death of Popeye our resident Cob last September we all await the spring, with Penny and Duke to continue the successful hatching of more cygnets to grace our River.
If ever a place deserved to be a designated wildlife area - This is it !

Ship To Ship Lose Battle !

Good News for all the campaigners against the ship to ship oil transfers. Cromarty Rising website gives details on the latest news. Maritime Coastguard Agency has told Cromarty Port Authority to scrap their current S2S application ! Well done to all the people power throughout the region, who did their bit for the wildlife and our planet.

Cromarty port authority might still continue after Easter, but if they were wise, they would not waste their time and money taking us on again.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Sparrowhawk Kills Rescued Pigeon

It's a hard life being a Pigeon, if your not being shot at, then there's always the predators....Like the Sparrowhawk.

                       I was pretty vexed today when I saw the Sparrowhawk eating a pigeon in my garden. 

It turned out to be the shot pigeon I had treated so successfully a while back and released a few weeks ago.

It was able to fly and had been doing fine until today when the Sparrowhawk singled it out for the kill.

Monday, 16 January 2017


Two bits of good news received recently. After consultations with Network Rail and Scottish SPCA Inspector Aileen Ross last week, Network rail have agreed to fit bird diverter discs onto the Nairn Railway bridge fence. This should prevent any bird collisions in future, our thanks to Inspector Ross and Network rail on this issue. I also received news that the Petition for a designated wildlife area has now passed through the legal Dept of Highland Regional Council.

It has been deemed to be legal, competent, and meets the requirements of the councils petition policy. We await further developments on this.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Tankers or Wildlife ?

Was going through some of my archive photos and came across a few with Tankers in the background. This is relevant to the current ship to ship oil transfer proposals outside the Cromarty firth. 

These particular shots show the size of these vessels and you can imagine many of them anchored adjacent to Nairn just a few miles away. The engine noise and fumes 24/7 throughout the summer and good weather, with the ever present danger of pollution - accidental or otherwise.
It's not only the marine wildlife, but our Swans and hundreds of other birds throughout the Moray firth that will be at risk. 

For the Cromarty Port authority to make a few extra bucks, it s not worth risking our precious environment and wildlife.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Twosome and Dipper

Penny and Duke are enjoying each others company with no distracting cygnets to worry about. Penny can now concentrate on feasting and getting herself in good condition for the spring.

Duke is also looking good and already looking healthier than when he first showed up. 

The little Dipper is also feasting in the cold fast water near the Merryton bridge.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Adopted Cygnets Gone

As I suspected, Penny and Duke have finally chased the adopted cygnets away. They did remarkably well by allowing them to mature to the right stage to survive on their own. The cygnets were much younger than Penny's when they arrived in the river, and 6 weeks feeding and flight practice has now given them a good start to their life's journey. 

Penny and Duke can now enjoy a couple of months peace, and build up their reserves for the new season.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Riverpark Runt Makes Good

Regular viewers will remember that the Trust cared for a brood of 13 ducklings rescued last summer from Riverpark. All of these were healthy except for the Runt of the brood which was half the size and way behind the others in development. 

When the time came for release I could not release the runt since it's wings had still not developed and it was still only half the size of it's siblings.

                          I decided to keep it to see if it would survive and mature. After another couple of months it developed into what I would consider a bantam sized duck with legs that are shorter than normal, otherwise it seems healthy and mature. I then had to consider getting it a suitable mate for company, and with the possibility of them having a brood this coming spring.

                           I am pleased to report that It now has a suitable mate and they are getting on famously, what a great success if they have a brood and can all go back to the river later this year ! Short clip below of her and new mate head bobbing !

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Action on Bridge Fence

A meeting between Network Rail and Scottish SPCA Inspector Aileen Ross will take place this week over safety measures to be installed on the River Nairn railway viaduct bridge. I involved the SPCA to ensure that Network rail realise the seriousness with which the Trust want action on a fence that has already cost the lives of 2 geese. Our Swans do fly over this bridge from time to time and the last thing we want is a fatality.

                       I have made a few suggestions to Network rail on the best action to take, so that the birds can see and avoid the fence before colliding with the wires.  

Friday, 6 January 2017

Trust Accounts for 2016

Have just completed the Annual accounts for the Trust. It has been an extremely busy year in every sense.

The total income for the Trust was £3075-74, This includes membership fees and the £800 awarded to us for Tree planting and bird rescue service.
Outgoings were £3752- 81 giving us a deficit again totalling £677-67.
The Trust has just increased it's annual membership fee to £20 which will include all members of the same family living at the same address. It is hoped this will help eliminate the annual deficit.
As founder and Treasurer I will pay the deficit meanwhile to help keep the Trust in the black.  

We successfully helped rescue some 62 Ducklings this year, as well as 2 dozen other bird species. Sadly we could not save Popeye this time.