Thursday, 31 May 2018

The Difference - Cob and Pen

I am always being asked " How do you tell the difference between the male and female Swan ?"
At a distance it is almost impossible - however, close up there are a number of differences. The main difference can be seen in the photo I prepared, showing Penny on the left and Duke on the right.

The large black fleshy lump at the base of the bill is much larger and more pronounced on Duke, this can be called the "berry". Seen close together, Duke is slightly larger with neck slightly longer and thicker. 

His tail is also wider and more fanned out, whereas Penny's comes to a single point. There are other differences such as leg skin colour, and variations where the black flesh meets the bill, all these observed over a period of time gives me a more detailed knowledge than most.

Cygnets Growing

The Cygnets are 2 weeks old and growing rapidly. They have been very fortunate with the weather conditions since hatching. 

Short movie clip below showing their robust nature, getting from the island into the moat with low water conditions.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Duke Attacks

Our resident Cob Duke is very much a different boy from last year. He is taking his new defensive duties very seriously, protecting his brood and territory to the utmost.

This morning he and Penny spotted an intruder at the Bailey bridge as they were in the island moat.

The reaction was instant, as Duke set off to confront the intruder. 

He flew down and attacked ferociously, driving the intruder literally up the wall of the channel, as Penny looked after the cygnets.

Photos sequence are blurred due to new camera, distance, and not yet familiar with settings !

Monday, 28 May 2018

Signs Of Summer

Glorious day today, Sunny, warm, light winds, real summer feel about it. The wildlife and natural world can also be seen in it's many forms. 

Penny Duke and cygnets all thriving and already growing fast, sleeping in the Summer warmth.

The smaller species like the common Sparrow, are also a joy to watch feeding their young.

Spotted working it's way along the riverside - an Eel, another sure sign of approaching summer.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Local Attraction

Penny, Duke and the cygnets are proving to be a smash hit with locals and visitors alike. 

With the availability of smart phones, they must have had their images taken a thousand times this last week.

Getting shots of the cygnets on Penny's back will only be possible for another week, she usually stops carrying them after that. 

                         I have been giving out the history of the Swans to people from all over the world this past week, all find it fascinating.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Disco's Darlings

With all the focus on the cygnets this week, we have neglected Disco and her darlings. 

They are thriving and even the two abandoned ducklings she adopted have almost caught up with her 6.
I am expecting other duckling broods showing up on the river in the coming month, many delayed nesting due to the extended cold weather. 

One I spotted nesting on the riverside when I was spot treating the giant hogweed ! This is the reason why I insist on keeping dogs under control at this time of year !

Short clip below of discos darlings, enjoying the garden pool today.

Thursday, 24 May 2018


You would expect water birds not to need a bath, 

but there's nothing they like better than a good splash around.  

Even the cygnets joined in.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Getting On Board

Change in the weather today with cold easterly wind, not conducive to newly hatched birds. 

Even the cygnets were feeling it, and decided that getting on board Mum was the better option !

At one point, Penny had 6 of her brood on board. This will only happen for about another week and then she will stop allowing it.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Happy Days

 As she has done for a Decade - within four days of hatching, 

Penny escorted her cygnets down river to the end of the pier closely guarded by Duke.

                         It was Happy days all over again as it was with Popeye in past years. 

Locals and visitors watched with smiles as Penny and Duke escorted them back up stream to the Island, where Penny had to carry some of the little ones against the current. 

Duke played his part by taking the lead and reducing the flow for the cygnets. 

                        It was all classic heart warming Swan parenting.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Robust Cygnets

Penny and Duke appear to have produced superb healthy robust cygnets. 

Very well formed and already gaining strength to march up to the nest easily. 

Gave them their first meal of finely chopped soft lettuce, dried mealworm and wholemeal crumbs. Penny nodded and grunted her approval in the short movie clip below.

Also removed the sterile egg that was keeping Penny on the nest, this was done to allow her to concentrate on the welfare of the seven cygnets. ( Egg with tennis ball beside for size comparison ) 

She was happy to have an empty nest for the care of the cygnets. 
It was a perfect day, warm, no wind and ideal for the cygnets to be given plenty of time in the water, admired by many passers by.

Duke was happy for Penny to take charge, while he saw off some young intruders.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Magnificent Seven !

This morning Penny and Duke took a tally of seven cygnets for their first dip. There was a bit of high drama when they were unable to climb out of the moat as the water level is so low.

Having allowed for this beforehand I placed 2 ramps at the usual exist points, but needless to say they were reluctant to use them. Unlike ducklings, cygnets cannot jump ! 

                        In the end I had to carry heavy sods across and place them between the ramps which the cygnets eventually used - as the pics show.

Duke appears to be at a loss when left alone to cope, this might well be his very first offspring, so Penny will have to use her long standing experience - once she is freed from the nesting.

Meanwhile Duke took the cygnets for a round tour of the island at high tide.

The weather would have been perfect if it was not for that chilly sea breeze.
A new chapter in the life of the Nairn swans begins !