Sunday, 29 April 2018

Trust To The Rescue.

The River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust again proved it's worth this afternoon with a Duck rescue.
Having been informed by Susan a concerned local, that a Mother duck with 11 ducklings was trapped under the wire mesh at the Merryton bridge. I phoned our Trust Secretary Morag who lives overlooking the bridge if she could check out the situation. Intrepid as always, she discovered that the mother duck was indeed trapped under the bridge wire retaining mesh, with the 11 ducklings huddled nearby.

With the help of yet another Trust member Hansel, who promptly got out his ladder and lowered it down to the riverside. Morag was able to climb down and free the Mother duck who re-joined her ducklings, Trust Mission accomplished !

Saturday, 28 April 2018

A Place InThe Sun

Disco the disabled duck finally stopped trying to hatch all her eggs and came out of the coop with 6 ducklings. 

The other eggs were infertile except for 2 that had died in shell. 

The weather was mainly sunny, although still chilly but a sun trap in my garden. 

Disco led them out of the aviary into the pond for their first dip, then a place in the Sun ! 

She had her first real bath for quite a while, and the ducklings relished the pond with the crushed mealworm and soft lettuce floating on the surface.

One of the ducklings was tired out and fell asleep, I got the feeling it was the youngest.

Limpy was initially jealous of the brood but soon accepted he was no longer the only party to Disco's attention.
Disabled or not, Disco has delivered her second brood and will rear them like the ones last year.
Short clip of the happy first dip below.

Thursday, 26 April 2018


Many people are unaware of the facts surrounding our river Ducks.
Mallard Ducks are one of the most prolific and successful waterbirds on the Planet They have been domesticated for hundreds of years, and readily live alongside humans. 
The female lays around 12 eggs over two or three weeks, then sits on the them for 28 days until hatched. The Male usually deserts the female once incubation has started and plays no part in rearing the ducklings. This is why so many males gather together in the river during the spring and summer months.

The female plumage is generally various shades of brown, this allows her to camouflage easier when nesting.

During the egg laying period, the duck leaves the nest and covers the eggs with feathers. The eggs at this stage are cold and only when all the clutch is laid must they be kept warm during incubation. Only the females actually Quack, the males make more of a chirping sound. 

Ducklings are able to fend for themselves within a couple of days of hatching, but are reliant on the mother for about 50 days until they are fledged. 
They are easy prey to many predators, Gulls, Crows, Herons, Otters, Mink, Foxes, Cats, Dogs and others.

 Most likely this is the reason for such large broods. They feed on Larvae, insects, aquatic vegetation, snails, worms, slugs, cereals and seeds. The weather has a major impact on the chances of survival, cold weather reduces the amount of food available, exactly when they need it most to keep out the cold.
Due to the massive increase in Dog ownership, ducks are having to be more skilful at choosing safe nest sites away from predators. They use urban environments more and more, and can nest in the most unusual places. Garden shrubbery, old wood piles, discarded fishing creels, boats, even old flower pots, Mallards are specialists at hiding their nests. One of the reasons they are such a successful species.
The adult birds moult after breeding and cannot fly for about a month, this makes them vulnerable to predators.
People sometimes inadvertently cause fatalities by throwing bread to them, this only serves to attract predators like Crows and Gulls who then feed on the ducklings. In any case, white bread is bad for ducks and has no nutritional value. 

First River Brood

Observed the First river brood of twelve appearance this morning. Although the Sun came out between showers, it is still colder than it should be. 

Warmth is critical to newly hatched Ducklings as it provides insect life and increases their chances of survival. I would remind people NOT TO THROW BREAD AT THEM, this will only bring down predatory Gulls and Crows that will wipe them out !

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Still Hatching

Disco is still sitting on unhatched eggs, it might well be that some of them will not be fertilised.

So far I have only seen 4 ducklings, but I do expect to see more.

They are now starting to explore the coop, and having sips of water and mealworm. 

After tomorrow, all that are going to hatch should make an appearance.

You can see some eggs underneath ,as well as a little one peeking out, and the others in the back.
Disco looks pretty pleased with herself !

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Disco Ducklings !

As anticipated, Disco started hatching her ducklings today. This morning's photos show 4 little beauties around her. 

Still some unfinished business and more to come, watch this space! 

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Egg-citing Times

With only 4 days until Disco hatches her brood, I have been getting a little egg-cited at the prospect of some new season ducklings. 

Unfortunately after taking a photo yesterday I discovered that Disco has accidentally lost an egg outside the nest. 

This could only have happened the previous night as I check the nest every day, so I rushed into the coop and removed the stone cold egg. After candling I could detect no movement, but decided to put it in the incubator on the off chance it might still be alive. As it was due to hatch in a few days It will be a miracle if it survives.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Sparrowhawk Makes a Comeback

The Sparrowhawk I released last week returned to my garden today. 

                            I was glad I put Limpy the disabled drake in the Aviary before going to the shops. On my return, the Sparrowhawk was sitting just outside the Aviary eyeing up Limpy who was kicking up a fuss at the unwelcome guest. 

The Hawk then flew onto the garden bushes and was quite content for me to take a series of photos. I got the impression he remembered me and was unafraid of my presence. 

Sadly I had to chase him off as I will soon have discos ducklings running around the garden, and don't want such a predator paying me visits !

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Penny Takes a Break

With warmer spring conditions finally here, Penny can take a break from the nest. 

Duke has been very attentive to her needs and is on hand to take over when required. 

He is on patrol watching out for any dangers, but quick to react when Penny needs a break. 

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Stunned Sparrowhawk

                     Interesting day, I saw Duke chasing 3 swans away that came up to the Swans island. He had no hesitation in seeing them all off while Penny sat on her nest. Later this afternoon knock at the door and a report that a hawk was laying on the ground outside Barron house. I went to investigate and found a stunned Sparrowhawk sitting on the ground.

Had put on a pair of gloves so picked it up and had a quick look. No apparent injuries, so either collided with a window or overhead wires. Within 10 minutes it had recovered enough to let it fly off. Also had a report last night that a Mother duck had been run over and killed in front of Grants Garage, apparently escorting ducklings across the road. I spent half an hour with a friend looking for ducklings this morning without success. I am trying to verify that there was indeed ducklings involved. If anyone can verify , please get in touch.
They would not survive long without their Mother in this cold weather.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Duke At His Best

Compared to last year, Duke is a different bird, he is strong , healthy and dominant. 

His attention has been fully focused on mating, looking after Penny and his domain. 

Guarding the nest site is now his immediate priority, even keeping the ducks at bay keeps him in fine fettle, ready to tackle any threat.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018


                     In spite of the extended winter weather, many birds are now nesting. 

Penny and Duke have been busy nest building and now in the process of egg laying. 

We badly need some warmth to get everything growing before hatching time arrives. 

Disco has a privileged position at the Trust sanctuary, and continues to incubate her large clutch.
These are due to hatch in about 3 weeks time.