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.  

Thursday, 23 November 2017


The high River earlier this week produced a chance to get a few shots of the Dipper.

                    It still managed to dive in the fast swirling  waters, and get some food among the masses of dead leaves.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Healthy Duke

After 18 hours of rain the river is well up and the birds keen to be fed their daily rations. Duke flew in for a quick boost, with his share of grain, mixed bird seeds, and wholemeal bread.

This time last year he was pretty sick and again last spring. I observed his inner mouth and tongue to be extremely white and anaemic looking.

With this in mind I started to feed him a supplement of dried mealworm, to boost the protein level in his diet. I even gave him some liquid iron which he took initially but then spat it out the following day...proving he does have a sense of taste ! 

Anyhow he has been much more active, has a good appetite and the tongue and mouth are now a healthy pink, as the photos show !

He is still patrolling the river around the island, even with the seal hunting close by.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Penny and Slim Pay a Flying Visit

After 2 weeks away, I was delighted to see Penny and her new mate Slim back in the river.

They both looked in great condition, obviously been feeding well somewhere.

Penny as usual came over to say hello, but then got down to the serious business of chasing Duke.

Slim again stayed in the background, observing Penny and her obvious command and control of Duke and the area.

After a short while and a few nips at Duke  she left him alone and started to bond closely with Slim, they are getting on really well.

As I suspected, she has spent the last month grooming Slim, and showing that she has a home and is strong enough to defend it. Slim is getting a real lesson from a powerful, mature, and established winner !  Sequence of shots shows the days events. They have again departed this evening, but Penny has shown she is keeping an eye on her domain, and like Arnie - she will be back !!

Short vid of penny and Slim getting ready to chase Duke below.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Ducks Feeding Time

The Wintry weather has arrived and drop in temperature can certainly be felt today. With no sign of Duke, perhaps he has gone to join a flock or searching for Penny or food.
The Ducks too are feeling the cold, this is what it's like when I turn up to feed them in the morning. The short video below gives you an idea of the excitement before feeding starts !

Friday, 10 November 2017

Penny Still Away

Our resident female Swan, Penny has now been away for 10 more days with her new mate Slim.
In all her years on the river she has never been away so long. It seems she is determined to find a suitable new mate that she can bring back to her home territory. 

Maybe Slim  is not old or stable enough to be her partner. She has a couple of months to find a new mate and return, before her territory is claimed by another pair. My feeling is she will not give up this nesting site easily, it has been far too successful.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Lonely Duke

Seems like Penny and her new found mate have deserted the river, at least for the time being. Penny and the new mate disappeared last Wednesday, and as yet have not returned. I got the feeling that the new mate was very young and just reaching maturity, and wanted to return to his flock or siblings. Penny might have to do a bit more grooming or searching to find a suitable mate. 

Meanwhile Duke is missing her, and was calling her a few times yesterday. I am sure she will return, as her nesting island has been so successful for her over the past 10 years.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Limpy Grows Up

Limpy, my disabled Drake is beginning to get his adult plumage for the first time.

He has learned to cope with only one good leg, and is able to use his wings when needs be. 

                    I expect he will have full colours by Christmas, and hopefully this will make him more appealing to Disco, who still bullies him from time to time. 

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Duke Reluctant To Leave

As with most Mummy's boys, Duke is reluctant to leave home and is using his knowledge of the river to avoid being chased out. 

Penny however is determined that he will go - sooner or later ! Yesterday Penny and her new mate were nowhere to be seen, and I think they left to find some food more suitable to her new mates taste, leaving Duke alone in the river. 

Today was a different story, with a new spring tide coming during next week, Penny went on the offensive and harassed Duke with a little more aggression.

Flying at him slapping the water loudly with her feet !

She is bonding with her new mate and showing him her Island home, which will have to be defended against all comers from now on.