Sunday, 29 November 2020

TRUST SUV (Swan Utility Vehicle)

This frosty morning I removed Briget from the river prior to her transportation down to Fishcross.


 Slim again tried to attack her, so glad she is now in the care of the Trust. Her weight and health has improved and she is still shedding her plumage.

 Currently enjoying the pool and unlimited food. As I no longer drive a car, my mobility scooter became my SUV - Swan Utility Vehicle! Briget did not seem to mind, and took in the view on the way home.

Thanks to Morag for the photos, and Donald for the helping hand.

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Mid Winter Moult

During the 16 years I've observed the River Nairn Swans, I have never experienced a Swan Moulting during the Winter !  

Briget has now become the first adult Swan to do so. Over the past few days I noticed primary flight feathers laying around the riverside where she is located. I can now surmise what may have been the reason for her return to the river at the end of October.

Adult female swans of rearing age would normally moult about six weeks after hatching their eggs, usually in July.  Something possibly traumatic, may have happened to Briget and her family.

She may have lost her partner and cygnets, prompting her to forego moulting in July. Her appearance at the end of October in a malnourished and dishevelled condition, leads me to this conclusion.

 Now that she has been cared for with proper nourishment for the past month by the Trust, her health condition has improved enough to moult and renew her plumage.

While this is good news it is also highly dangerous for her, as she can no longer fly to escape a possible deadly attack by Slim and Sue !  

Her age and experience has so far allowed her to outwit and stay one step ahead of the less experienced Slim and Sue, as well as the protection by myself during feeding time. However, moulting takes about 6 weeks, so reluctantly the Trust has decided to have her relocated again to a place of safety. 

She needs continued proper nutrition during this time and the best place will be the National wildlife rescue centre at Fishcross. I have made arrangements for the Scottish SPCA to transport her down there next week. She will be cared for until fit for release and a new beginning. Short video of her preening today.


Monday, 23 November 2020

Donnie and Disco

With Dark nights and a long Winter ahead, my thoughts turned to how poor Disco our disabled duck was feeling, alone by the garden pool. 

She has been confining herself to the coop all day and only venturing out after dark.  The solution had to be another mate for company over the Winter... 

Enter Donnie the Drake, one handsome Mallard in  the prime of life. Disco quacked with joy on seeing her new friend and companion. 

Hopefully they are well matched and produce some ducklings next season.

More good news on the Water lane Pigeon. It was cooped up in the outside aviary and keen to join it's mates. After 5 weeks care and treatment, it had recovered from a broken wing and Salmonella infection.

It was successfully released yesterday, and joined it's mates around the Town centre.

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Chasing Briget

Briget our visiting Swan continues to reside in the river, keeping a respectful distance from Slim Sue and the Cygnets.

 The more I observe their behaviour, leads me to believe that Briget only wants to be part of the family! 

Having no mate or youngsters of her own, she gets as close as she can at any opportunity.

These times are twice a day at feeding time, and when the tide fills the lower river.

This allows all of them the water to amuse themselves with short chases around the island strip, 

                     even the cygnets join in the chase. 

Eventually Slim and Sue calm down and let Briget Snooze on her little patch of river.

             Short video below at feeding time, with Briget happily behind me - Slim and Sue ready to pounce !

Monday, 16 November 2020

Road to Recovery

One of the two injured Pigeons in Trust care over the past month is well on the way to a full recovery. Sadly the one that was severely injured by a Sparrowhawk has died. In spite of my best efforts, it's another case of, some you win..  

These birds ordinarily would not survive, they would be taken by predators as they could not fly. However, given the care time and space to recover, they often do. 

The pigeon from Water Lane with a fractured wing and Salmonella has made a great recovery. I gave it a weeks antibiotic treatment which ended the Salmonella infection, with a bit of luck I bandaged the wing into a favourable position to heal.

                        It has flown a couple of times indoors, half the length of my house so I know it can fly OK. I will shortly put it into the outdoor aviary to complete the rehab before final release.

By chance it landed on it's box with the curtains as a nice backdrop for a portrait shot...doesn't it look good!

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Swan Aggro

The uneasy truce between Sue her family and Briget, continues. However the aggro is never far away and Sue is the most aggressive of all.

                         I think having another female like Briget in the same territory is more than she can stand. 

All of them are showing their displeasure when Briget shows up for her share of the feed, note the young male cygnet in the middle with his wings in aggressive mode too.

Sue is at the front leading the charge !

Tuesday, 10 November 2020


Slim Sue and the Cygnets, appear to be tolerating the presence of Briget on the river. 

Staying 20 metres above the bridge  allows Briget comparative peace to stay. I have to make sure that the cygnets and Slim and Sue come first at feeding time, while Briget slips in behind me for protection while she eats ! 

                       It's an uneasy truce, but I have to make it plain that the resident family come first. After feeding I escort Briget away unhindered,  which seems to satisfy Slim and Sue. Short video below showing Briget heading to her spot after feeding.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Cormorant Wings

There has been a young Cormorant around the lower river for a while. 

Had the opportunity to get a bit of video while it was drying it's wings. 

Was a lovely sunny day, and warm for the time of year. As with most juveniles, they are less worried and fearful of being close to humans. Short video below.

Friday, 6 November 2020

No Awa Tae Bide Awa

Briget apparently used the trip to Findhorn as an away day...for she was back under the Merryton bridge this morning! 

Looks like there's no place like home for our born and bred Nairn river Swans. It's around 10 miles from Nairn to Findhorn as the Crow flies, for a Swan about 12 minutes flying time. The Trust will not take her back into care, and just let Slim and Sue sort it out between them. 

Was fascinating to watch the interaction this morning after I fed Briget, Slim and Sue came up for their feed as Briget slowly moved about 10 yards above the bridge, folded her head down between her wings and pretended to sleep. 

Sue had her wings up but ignored Briget until she finished eating, all very civil. Once the feed was over Sue could not resist slowly venturing up to Briget.

 Was a moment of amazement for me, as Sue and Briget looked at one another almost as if each recognised they were related and Sue gently turned away to re-join Slim and the cygnets. 

Perhaps Sue could see Penny, her mother in her sister, I am pretty sure some recognition took place, that a human could not comprehend.

My feeling now is that a level of tolerance will be allowed until the cygnets are fledged and away from the river. As spring draws nearer and testosterone levels rise, Slim and Sue will seriously drive Briget away.

The series of photo's show the encounter between Sue and Briget this morning.  

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Briget Goes East

Briget our Swan visitor in Trust care, is now on her way east for relocation to Findhorn. 

She has been well fed and now weighs in at a healthy 9.6 kg. This is much more than she was a couple of weeks ago, when she arrived in the river in a weak and malnourished condition.

She now has more options to get in touch with a flock or two in open water, and hopefully find a mate. 

She has been happy and content during her stay with me, even to the point of sleeping outside my window and on occasion tapping at the glass !

We wish her well and a good future.

Short video clip below showing just how powerful the wings of a swan are.