Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Ducklings Galore

We have yet another Brood of Ducklings on the river, taking the current count surviving so far to 21.
It's early days but I'm hoping the survival rate will be good at this time of year. 

Main advantages of late broods, more cover for them, more food available, less predatory pressures, warmer temperatures and mothers not pounced on by drakes that are moulting. 

Lovely for people to see after the disappointing cygnet failure this year. 

Disco my disabled duck is in full moult right now and having a well deserved break, having reared 12 of her own and 24 fostered ones this season. Short video below of a fresh bath to get rid of some of those old feathers !

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Injured Duck Brood Update

Photo update of the Injured Duck's Brood today, she still has the 10. 

Have also heard some more good news that one of our Trust members, has just escorted another duck with 9 ducklings to the riverside. 

This is good news to coincide with good weather, and should improve their chances of survival..

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Injured Duck Makes My Day !

Regular viewers will recall my recent treatment of an injured duck. 

This evening she made my day by showing up with 10 ducklings hatched on the Swans island this morning !  Last night she came off the nest for her usual feed about 8pm and quickly returned to the nest. Today she turned up alone but then flew up river and not to the nest site, I thought maybe something had happened and she had to abandon the nest. Was only on my way home this evening that I spotted her in the moat with 10 little beauties , I was elated !

All my efforts and treatment over the past month has payed off in great style. A month ago she was almost unable to walk, now she has full mobility and a fabulous brood of ducklings too - I could not be happier !  It was nearly dark when I spotted her tonight and the camera shot is blurred  due to automatic settings, however you can see she has 10 ducklings and I will make a point of posting new pics as soon as I can.  

Friday, 23 August 2019


No one alive today can ignore the plight of the Planet, from Climate Change to the burning of the Amazon Rainforests, the evidence is clear for all to see. When I started this Blog over 10 Years ago, I was extremely conscious of the damage that Humans were doing to the Planet, and the very first words I wrote on the heading of the blog has been borne out time and time again.

                         I am not on Facebook or Twitter or any similar social media, and can only voice my concerns on this Blog to the wider world. As a member of the WWF, I have been asked to help bring the Amazon Rainforest fires to  your attention to be spread on social media and around the world to stop this Madness. Followers of my blog will have heard me point out before, that Rivers are the arteries and veins of the Planet and have to be protected. Likewise the trees are the Lungs of the Planet, and also have to be protected. We are dealing with life and death on a massive scale and as the one species that are most responsible, we must make our voices heard.
Please do what you can by visiting the WWF website  HERE and at the very least sign their petition.

On behalf of all the creatures and species that are being burned alive right now, THANK YOU.    

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

New Plumage

Penny and Duke have about another week before their new plumage has fully grown in, giving them the ability to fly once more. 

The dog scare last Friday still hangs over them, now avoiding the Moat area. 

Meanwhile the mother duck with 5 ducklings is still keeping a close watch and they are growing.

One of them was feeling the cold and decided getting on top was the answer !

Friday, 16 August 2019

Dangerous Dog Attack

Today was nearly a fatal disaster for the birds at the Swans island. This morning I was feeding the Swans and ducks in the moat area in front of the island when a large Boxer dog came bounding past and dashed headlong into the moat after Penny and Duke, it was pandemonium as all the birds scattered in every direction. The dog was similar to the one shown here.

Penny and Duke fled down towards the end of the moat pursued by the dog swimming frantically to catch them. They dashed over the stones desperately trying to reach the river and the dog was inches away from grabbing them as they ploughed into the river. 

The dog came back to chase the ducks that were still on the island and in the moat, especially the mother duck with the 5 little ones,  she was in the water against the bank and I jumped in front of the dog to stop it jumping in after them. The dog owner was on the path calling the dog, which was totally ineffectual, it was hyper and still looking for something to grab. Eventually a Trust member walking her dogs, was able to confront the dog and the owner finally got a lead on it.
Penny and Duke had a very narrow escape and took refuge in the harbour where they are still  currently sited.  

Penny in particular will be scared, as she was attacked and badly injured nine years ago when she was moulting. 
Dog owners should be aware that 95% of the river birds are moulting right now and unable to fly, this makes them very vulnerable. 
I found out where the Dog owner stays on the riverside and he apologized and assured me he will keep the dog on a lead from now on. I will not report the incident this time, but hold the owner responsible from now on.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Westbury Ducklings Released

With a short break in the weather and river levels lower, it was time to release the last remaining rescued ducklings.

All of them are capable of flight and have been given a head start at survival. They quickly joined the resident ducks nearby.

Disco and I can now get a break, after four and half months caring and rearing 36 ducklings this season !  Short clip of release below.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Five Alive

Surviving on the river is no easy feat for a duckling, predators like Crows, Gulls, Heron, Otters, Cats and dogs, all aiming to make a meal out of them. 

Having a good Mother is essential to watch for dangers and see off any potential threats. 

She will do her best to conceal them and hide them in plain sight as required.

About 3 weeks ago this mother turned up with 9 and has since lost 4 of them, the last was about a week ago. 

They are so slow to grow to a safe size, but I'm hoping these ones will make it, as they are now approaching the safety size. The Mother has done a fantastic job, and passing on her skills to the offspring.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Follow The Leader

Good news on the injured duck I have been treating. She appears to be using the injured leg much more easily now. 

She comes off the nest once a day for food, a quick wash and preen, and her usage of the injured leg is normal in the water. I finished the antibiotic course a few days ago and it seems to have done the job. 

Ready to tackle any drakes that come close !

Meanwhile most of the ducks are moulting as well as Penny and Duke, who led a procession down the moat for their usual feed. The weather has turned much cooler and insect life has disappeared for the moment.  

Friday, 9 August 2019

Ducklings Release Postponed

Climate change once again effects our part of the world with unseasonal conditions, more like Autumn than Summer. The River has been high for some time now and likely to continue for a while yet. I was planning to release the last rescued ducklings this weekend, but High water conditions could result in a disaster for them. 

Being released into a new environment will take them a couple of days to get used to it, before integrating with the resident ducks. 

They are on the verge of flight, but could easily be washed downstream and fall prey to the Black backed gulls at the river mouth. I will have to wait until the river drops and conditions are more favourable to their survival.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Injured Duck Nesting

For over a month I have been treating an injured duck with a bad right leg. 

She first came to my attention by flying onto the grass bank area on the harbour street side of the river, looking for food.

She had her mate with her but was unable to stand on two legs and lay down on the grass. She was only able to hop for a foot or two before laying down again. Treating an injured wild bird in the open is very difficult, as they are free to fly away and nigh on impossible to catch.

Getting an accurate diagnosis of the problem is the first hurdle, and I use the camera and observations based on my knowledge of the subject. Occasionally the duck would put the right leg down but reluctant to put weight on it, she did sometimes scratch her face with it showing the ability to flex her foot. Seemed to me that it was not an obvious broken bone,  maybe a muscle or tendon sprain was the problem.
She flew to me once a day at some point knowing I would feed her, so I decided to give her an anti inflammatory to see if this would do the trick. After 5 or 6 days she appeared to improve and would start to use the leg sparingly, but at least using it. I continued the treatment for a further two weeks, but this did not appear to advance her recovery any more.  

Taking some more photos of the leg I noticed a slight swelling at the ankle just over a week ago. After further consultations and research, I came to the conclusion that she might have an infection, and a course of antibiotics would be required. 

Six days ago I started giving her the oral antibiotics once a day as this was the only way of administering it - twice a day would have been better but impossible to do in the wild. During this time I watched her improve day by day, using the leg more and more. 

To make matters even more satisfying I watched her return to a nest site each day after treatment and feeding. I have one more dose to give her and hoping this will finally fix the problem. The big advantage of her sitting on eggs now, is the fact that the leg will get the rest required to heal whatever ails her. My observations and patience does have it's rewards. Sequence of pics to date.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Rescued Ducklings At Home

Regular viewers may recall the rescue of 8 ducklings in early May by teenagers Haley and Alex from Queenspark. The Mother duck had been killed and the 8 ducklings were only a couple of days old at the time. 

After 9 weeks with me and Disco the foster Mum, they were returned to the river with 15 others a few weeks ago.

Tonight I was heartened to see the 8 flying towards me at the Swans island, landing in the moat looking for a feed.  It was only 30 yards from where they were first picked up as 2 day old ducklings. 

Great to see them healthy, flying and thriving, back home where their Mother brought them in early May, she may have died but her offspring all survived !

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Silted River

The River today was in a sorry condition, heavily silted in spate.  There must have been a heavy downpour up river somewhere, but the volume of silt was something else. 

This is the second time this has happened in as many weeks. Speaking to one fisherman who has phoned SEPA about the volume of silt, probably from Daviot quarry. Will no doubt have a detrimental effect on the Salmon run this year. The waterbirds too, unable to feed due to the heavy contamination. Short clip below showing the colour.