Sunday, 30 April 2017

Birds Don't Vote

Like everyone else I have had the usual political leaflets through the door asking for my vote in this coming Thursday's local elections. The River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust constitution states that we are non - political. However this does not mean our members cant vote, we can and should....bearing in mind what our incumbent local politicians have done for the community ? As regular readers of this blog will recall, the Trust collected 1250 genuine signatures on a petition asking for the lower riverside to be designated a wildlife area.

Birds don't vote and the Trust exists to protect their rights and interests on the river, see clause 2 of our constitution.

Our 4 incumbent politicians decided to ignore the wishes of the 1250 petition signers, even though this was a simple request which would have cost the public purse nothing ! The Provost Cllr Laurie Fraser, could not even accept the petition for fear of offending regional he said. Maybe the real reason was his ties with the Angling association , and as the purveyor of fishing permits and tackle ? I note in his election leaflet, he is keen to retrieve some missing ceremonial robes of office, seems they are more important than the 1250 signatories petition. There is an irony in this election business, all of our incumbent councillors were each voted in the last election on less votes than the petition !!  
I am no politician but still managed to collect 1250 genuine signatures in a month on a matter which was important to many for the good of the community. 
Perhaps it's time for a clean political sweep and allow some fresh minds who will concentrate on the things that really matter to the majority of Nairn residents, and get rid of the lame duck councillors - pardon the expression. 
Multi million pound pipe dreams should be left to pipe smoking addicts, and our politicians should have a reality check on why people come to Nairn in the first place. If visitors wanted Blackpool then they would go to Blackpool. I am all for improving Nairn in the best way possible, but am totally opposed to wasteful ideas, consultants and projects costing millions to benefit a few, sadly this seems to be the current thinking of some of our pipe dreaming politicians. Concentrating on quality rather than quantity would serve Nairn better.  A Quality town centre, environment, water, beaches, walks, seafront, wildlife. Quality is the key, so lets get the infrastructure and bypass, and make Nairn a quality place to live in and visit.    

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Nesting Season = Dog Control

The first ducklings of the year were seen yesterday in Town heading for the riverside.

This is an opportune time to remind Dog owners that birds will be hatching over the next 3 or 4 months, and to be aware that ducks and swans are vulnerable ground nesting birds.

                           I realise I'm not popular with some dog owners for reminding them of their responsibilities to the Scottish outdoor access code, which states that dogs should be kept under close control when near areas with ground nesting birds.

Under close control does not always mean that your dog should be on a lead, BUT if your dog is prone to hunting or chasing birds then it makes sense to keep them on a lead when near wildlife.

 Like all creatures ducks and Swans will stay with their young to try and protect them, making them vulnerable to fatal dog attacks.

These are some of the photos that cost the life and injuries to our wildlife. Please take care when out with your dogs !

Friday, 28 April 2017

Black Backed Gull

One of the most powerful predators on the coast and lower river is the Black - back gull. 

These birds will take any prey they fancy, including ducks, rabbits and fish. They are one bird that all others recognise as an apex predator on the riverside.

They will also take carrion and any opportunity to steal food from other lesser gulls and Crows. 

Their size compared to our regular herring gull and Hoodie Crow can clearly be seen in the photos.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

April Snow

Someone was telling me about the Osprey sitting on a Snowy nest at Boat of Garten. 

Getting snow at nesting time in April is not unheard of in Scotland.

                           I recall 2012 when we had a couple of inches in early April and Popeye our late Cob was stoically sitting on the nest regardless - as these pics show.

Monday, 24 April 2017


What a difference a day makes, yesterday I was admiring the tree blossom and Wood pigeon on the fence.

Today battling a fierce Arctic wind and watching Penny in the driving sleet, which had subsided by the evening, wind had briefly changed direction too.

Arctic Blast

As I feared, winter hitting us now just as the first ducklings are due to hatch. Today was horrendous with an Icy Arctic blast blowing from the North straight up the riverside, sleet that was horizontal and wind chill that numbed the hands in minutes ! 

Watching Penny on the nest with no cover from the gale force winds and sleet, I marvelled at her ability to keep the clutch warm in such atrocious conditions. Having not seen her off the nest or eat for 4 days, I ventured over and gave her a sodden wholemeal roll, broken up into small enough pieces to eat on the nest.
This I rarely do and only in exceptional circumstances - today was one of those times. Within minutes my hands were frozen and I struggled  to get my gloves back on. Getting the occasional snow shower in April is not unusual, but the gale force wind straight from the north pole was something else, it was bitter !! Could not get photo since hands were too numb to get the camera out of case, but similar to conditions in old photo above but with a stronger wind !

Friday, 21 April 2017


The Anniversary Island  Swan Calendars have been going fast and will need another reprint. Typical comment from satisfied buyers " They are Great "  "Photographs are amazing" "Beautiful photographs " "Aww, Just lovely".
I am pleased that my 10 years of photographing the Swans have not only given me great pleasure, but are appreciated by all. 

The purchase of these calendars helps provide for our beautiful river birds, all the proceeds are used for their care and welfare. More details   HERE

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Duck Rehab

Last week a concerned riverside resident brought a female duck with an injured wing to the Trust . It appeared to be broken, but after careful inspection and a trip to the Vet it was discovered to be dislocated. Two pairs of hands were required to relocate and bandage the wing back into place. It is now in rehab with the Trust and hopefully might regain the ability to fly - time will tell.

Sunday, 16 April 2017


Easter is the traditional time for renewal, this could not have been more apt today at the Swans Island.

Penny and Duke were full of the joys, and had a beautiful mating session to continue the legacy and life of the Swans. 

                        I was privileged to be on hand to record the event as the sequence of shots show.

Penny was the prime mover and Duke was happy to oblige.

                         I was particularly taken when Penny put her neck right across Dukes neck and back indicating she was ready to mate, then putting her wings down into the water to allow him access onto her back.

Finishing with a Swan lake water ballet, all quite wonderful.... A nature lesson for everyone.... Enjoy !

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Predators On The Hunt

Most birds are now nesting and the predators are on the prowl. 
The Crows are highly active and hunting out any nests and eggs they can grab.

Duke is very wary of the crows, and had to race out of the moat when a crow landed on the nest with the intention of getting at the eggs. He is pretty agile and certainly younger than Penny, he was out of the moat and at the nest in a flash. Shortly after, another Crow landed nearby with a stolen ducks egg, and was joined for a meal. Pity the poor ducklings when they start to hatch !

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Duke Improves

After several run - ins with the challengers, Duke seems to have regained his dominant position on the river.

He is conscientious about guarding the nest, and patrolling the river when Penny is on the nest.

Things are looking good for our river residents.

Monday, 10 April 2017


                          I found out why Duke was reluctant to tackle the new challengers the other day. A Trust member witnessed a battle in the morning when Duke was briefly overcome by the Cob. Penny however chased the Pen challenger, and later that night she and Duke turned the tables and chased them both out of the river.
Today I watched, as the Challengers returned again to be chased out of the river.

Penny has taken on the Alpha role and led the attack on the challengers while Duke held back. 

Penny was not content to let them stay at the entrance to the river mouth, and took off to attack and chase them into the sea. This was always what she and Popeye did, and she is trying to teach Duke to do likewise. So far they are hanging on to the territory, and Penny is doing most by forming the nest, laying the eggs and chasing the intruders.

Duke is going to have to improve his performance once all the eggs are laid and Penny starts the incubation, he will have to meet the challengers himself and chase them out. 

They were mating again today and Duke draws strength from Penny, she is a remarkable Swan and deserves the premier nesting spot !