Sunday, 31 May 2020

Slim and Sue in Sweet Cicely

Glorious weather and the final stages of incubation for Slim and Sue's first clutch. Being a month behind Penny's usual nesting time, the island vegetation has now dwarfed the nest. Sue  now sits surrounded by sweet Cicely and wild grasses. Nice camouflage and shelter, but will obscure our first glimpse of the hatched cygnets.

However I have been working  on the Moat and earth ramp to accommodate their trip to the water when they arrive.

My relationship and trust with Slim and Sue has blossomed, with my daily feeds and moat work visits. 

Friday, 29 May 2020

Disco's Ducklings

After the demise of Duke, and all the recent doom and gloom, it's nice to see brilliant sunshine and an easing of the Lockdown.

 Disco and her ducklings are happily oblivious to the woes of the world, and enjoying a dip in the pool, see below. 

Tuesday, 26 May 2020


Sadly I have to report that Duke was put to sleep today. When I picked him up out of the Harbour earlier, he was already on a downhill journey, he was underweight and listless and was not interested in eating at all. I had arranged with the SPCA and Moray coast Vets to give him an examination to determine the best course of action. 

The conclusion was in his best interests to be put to sleep. He had lost his left eye and had other underlying health issues, his ability to survive was untenable.
This was the third time in the 4 years on the river that I had to get him to the Vets. The previous two occasions he was sent to the SPCA centre at Fishcross where he was treated successfully. 

He fathered one brood of seven with Penny in 2018, so some of him lives on. He was one of the friendliest swans ever, and I will miss him.  

Monday, 25 May 2020

Duke Serious Injury

Had a close look at Duke yesterday evening while he was resting. He has been reluctant to put his head under water to feed and this rings alarm bells for his survival. I will have him taken to the Vet tomorrow to see what can be done.

Looks like he has been in a fight and was hit on the side of the head, affecting his hearing and eyesight. Unless the vets can do something, his long term survival is now in doubt. 

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Keeping Watch

Disco's brood are growing fast and virtually double in size every week. At 3 weeks old they are much larger than any ducklings on the river of the same age, due to feeding of course. 

Disco is always keeping a close attentive watch on them, quick to threaten any jackdaws or pigeons that come close.

Meanwhile Sue sits on her clutch as the vegetation grows around her, a good windbreak for todays blustery winds.

Duke is still hiding in the harbour - with good reason, I discovered when he spread his wings that he has some damaged and missing flight feathers, making him unable to fly ! Looks like he has been in a few scrapes and now at a dangerous disadvantage. Swans tend to threaten but rarely come to blows, as one of them usually backs off and fly away. 

Poor Duke cannot do this, so has resorted to hiding among the Boats and Pontoons in the harbour. He will not grow new feathers until he moults later in the Summer so I will have him moved to a safe location for the benefit of all.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Duke Returns !

Last Saturday I was told about another Swan in the harbour, so went to investigate. A bedraggled Swan saw me and immediately approached, trying to scale the harbour wall. I knew right away that it was one of our previous Swans.

However with the unkempt appearance I did not realise that it was in fact Duke, having disappeared with penny on the 8th of March.

                       In his weakened state I fed him for the past few days and tried to encourage him back out to Sea. Successful  once but he has since returned. His condition has improved.

Slim knows he is hiding in the harbour between the boats, and awaits the chance to chase him away. Sadly there is no sign of Penny and  wonder what has happened to her ! My feeling is that she is OK in a flock and maybe even has another mate! Anyhow there can be no way Duke can remain in the river or harbour now, as the territory has been ceded to Slim and Sue, expecting cygnets in a few weeks. 

                         If slim does not succeed in chasing him away by next week, I will have to have him relocated  perhaps to Findhorn where he most likely came from. Averting the tragic events of 2007 when the original Popeye and Penny were attacked in the Harbour and all their cygnets were killed must be avoided at all costs !  Meanwhile the Trust asks people not to feed Duke to discourage him from staying.  

Monday, 18 May 2020

Diving Ducklings

Two weeks old and full of the joys, the ducklings enjoy some duckin and divin !  video below.

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Cuddly Ducklings

One thing about a large brood of Ducklings - they are an extremely cuddly bunch ! 

                       I am particularly pleased for the lost duckling that now has 14 brothers and sisters - as well as a fantastic Mum !

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Sue Takes a Break

With slightly warmer conditions, and change in wind direction, Sue got a chance to leave the nest for a break.

After a welcome feed and Slim minding the nest, she had a good bath and preen during a brief sunny spell. 

Both of them are hand in glove, and doing everything right, just as Penny and Popeye did. 

Maintaining the Moat has been vital to their welfare, especially during low water conditions. 
Short video below.

Meanwhile Disco is taking advantage of the warmer conditions too, sunning her ducklings in the garden.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

DNA Disco Alert

The natural world never ceases to amaze me, how the DNA and in built instincts are so apparent from birth.

The same morning that Disco came out of her nest with the newly hatched ducklings was quite something to watch. Although only a few hours out of the shells the ducklings already knew how to respond to Disco's calls. If you watch the short video clip below, you will see what happened when a blackbird flew down for a drink.

Disco's alert was immediate and the ducklings response likewise. Although this was in a garden she's known for 4 years, she was still on the lookout for predators and possible dangers.
For those armchair wildlife experts who claim that our local wildlife is tame, nothing could be further from the truth. 

Another example is when I took some pics of disco with her ducklings underneath she showed her open bill as a warning to keep my distance. This was despite the fact that I have cared for her for the past 4 years in the confines of the garden and aviary- she is not tame! This goes for the river Ducks and swans, I am used as a facilitator and benefactor, they know it and I know it. Seeing the ducks in close proximity on the riverside at this time of year is simply because they are nesting and the females in particular will lose half their body weight during egg laying and incubation. 

By visiting me as a quick source of food they can leave the nest briefly and retain their health to lay and incubate the clutch. They are not tame, just using their instinctive intelligence. Too bad some of our local humans cant do the same .

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Ducklings Diner

The beautiful weather continues...for now, and the wildlife are making the most of it. 

Disco and her ducklings are enjoying frequent visits to the pool, with lots of dining in between. The upturned dustbin lid makes and excellent salad bowl where they can get stuck in  it chopped lettuce and Mealworm! Video below.

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Disco Does It

Having slipped in the lost duckling through the night, Disco continued to hatch her own. Today she revealed all - 15 Ducklings ! 

Conditions were near perfect with warm spring sunshine she was keen to escort them to the pond for their first dip, some only hours old. 

                     I could not tell which one was the lost duckling added last night. I am delighted to see such a brood and Disco having a great bath after a 27 day incubation, she loved it ! Short video below. 

Monday, 4 May 2020

Lucky Duckling

UPDATE: 1am, Duckling safely tucked up under Disco, job done.

The first orphaned or lost duckling arrived today, courtesy of local resident Emma, who found it around the Jubilee bridge area. 

Luck was certainly on it's side today, not only being found, but by coincidence Disco our Trust Duck started to hatch her brood this afternoon! 

This will give me the opportunity to surreptitiously slip the duckling in with her brood during the night. 

With some still to hatch, hopefully she will be distracted enough not to notice the new addition ! Last year I did a similar thing and it worked fine. It is at least a couple of days older, but still young enough to hide under  Disco. 

Meanwhile it has been warmed up and fed, courtesy of the trust, while disco hatches her eggs, two can be seen this afternoon, she was sitting on 12.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

SPCA Liaison

The Trust had a call from the SPCA this morning after they had a report of an injured Cormorant on the Riverside. 

Having dealt with Inspector Ross on numerous occasions over the years she contacted me to check out the report. I have seen the bird over the past 3 days, and see no cause for concern as it is a Juvenile Cormorant doing what Cormorant's do, standing, drying and preening.

They are fish eating birds that dive a lot and have to spend a lot of time drying out and re- waterproofing.