Thursday, 8 December 2016

Happy Ducks

What a difference a day makes when the temperature goes from freezing to 15 degrees. 

The ducks certainly respond to this unseasonal rise and start their spring like antics, lovely to see, even if it will be short lived at this time of year.  Short movie clip below.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Staying Vigilant

Today we hear about the possible new Avian flu threat reaching our shores from the rest of Europe. The Trust as always will be keeping a vigilant watch on our Wild birds - currently in a very healthy condition on our River.

The Migrations from Scandinavia, Russia and the Baltic states are a concern at this time of year. We usually get some Pintail and Tufted Ducks arriving when the hard weather strikes.

Most of the Geese have already arrived here some time ago,  but people should keep a watchful eye for any dead or dying birds and report them to the authorities. DEFRA advice -   " Wild bird surveillance activity in Great Britain has been increased. If poultry keepers or the general public find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or gulls, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, they should report them to the Defra helpline. 03459 33 55 77. UK only. "

DEFRA  also states - "Since 3 November, highly pathogenic avian influenza of subtype H5N8 has been found in dead wild birds in Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the Russian Federation. These outbreaks have affected various wild bird species, including Tufted Ducks (Aythya fuligula), Common Pochard (Aythya ferina), gull species, wild geese, wild swans and various other wild waterfowl and raptors."

Hopefully we will avoid any outbreaks here, currently there are no cases in the UK.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Freezing Fog

Hardest winter frost yet, woke up to pretty thick ice on the duck pond, birds ravenous and thirsty today.

Fairly dense freezing fog blanket earlier this morning. Penny and Duke still have the 2 orphan cygnets tagging along. 

The latest one from the Dunbar golf course appears to have been shot as well.

Had a close look at it today and noticed a few shotgun pellet holes in it's feet, looks like one of the cowboys has let loose with a small bird shot shell as it flew over. There's no excuse for shooting at a Swan, young or old it is illegal !

Was so cold today that droplets of water were frozen on the cygnets back, my feet were numb as well !

I think the local pigeons are putting the word around that medical attention can be had at my door !  On opening the door the other day I found a pigeon huddled at the step, I picked it up and gave it a quick look see. 

Later after examination of it's poop it appears to be suffering from Salmonellosis, a deadly bacterial infection. I have started treatment with antibiotics, but it may be too late to save it, time will tell.

The other 2 shot pigeons have survived, which is quite a surprise considering one of them was so very badly wounded.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Ignorance Is Not Bliss - It's Just Ignorance

Noted last week that another letter to the Editor of the Nairnshire Telegraph, from one of the Fishertown clique. It was an echo of a previous critic, bleating about how there were too many ducks on the riverside at the Merryton bridge, waiting on their food. He mentioned that the river was 58 kilometres long and it was not natural that all the ducks were down at the tidal reaches. He fails to understand that it is natural for the ducks to congregate in a tidal estuary, especially during winter where there is a food source, not only provided by the trust. Birds have been around longer than humans, yet humans still think they know what's best for every other species on the Planet, while we carry on destroying the climate and almost everything we touch ! Like migrants who leave their ravaged countries for safety and food, ducks have the same survival instinct as any other living thing. For Ducks there is safety in numbers, they also spend the winter months sussing each other out and pairing up. In spring they will start to disperse all along the river to nest. It is therefore not surprising and very natural, that they seek the safety and food available at the Merryton bridge. If they were elsewhere at this time of year they could be shot on sight. Another reason why The River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust want this to be a recognised designated wildlife haven / safe zone !

In addition he echoed the nonsense that the Swans Island was a flooding threat to Fishertown, this once again is ignorance talking, but more likely an attempt to keep in with a golfing buddy who made the same previous petty and ignorant comment. Can I just inform my viewers that both these gentlemen have an intense dislike of me, what a pity that they would sacrifice the greater good just to get at me !!

Thursday, 1 December 2016

New Cygnet and Little Grebe

Had a report that a young cygnet was on the Dunbar golf course yesterday, and that someone was contacting the Scottish SPCA. When I arrived at the river yesterday afternoon, there was another cygnet with Penny, Duke and the adopted one as well. It looks about the same age and might well be from the same brood. 

This could be a blessing in disguise, since Penny and Duke might chase both of them away at the same time, giving each other company....we shall see.

The little Grebe is still very active around the Merryton bridge area too, 

the distinctive powder puff tail can be seen.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016


The River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust is opposed to the Cromarty Port Authority plans for Ship to Ship oil Transfers in the Moray Firth. 

This would be directly opposite Nairn causing pollution and an ever present danger to our coastline. Most locals will know that during the Summer the breeze comes across from Cromarty and carries diesel fumes and Noise from the ships anchored outside the Cromarty entrance. If the Cromarty Port Authority get their way, there will be a huge increase in anchored shipping and the additional threat pumping oil from one ship to another. 

The polluted ballast from their tanks will also create more pollution threats.

The last thing Nairn needs is contaminated beaches which already suffer from sewage pollution right now ! There will be a public meeting this Friday at 7pm in the Community centre, we would urge as many people as possible to attend and show your support for the organisations opposing this plan.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Rectory Duckling Prognosis

After a full course of antibiotics I had hoped that the rectory duckling would have been cured of the balancing problem it has.

Unfortunately it is still unstable on it's feet and I am unable to release it to the river, it would not survive in it's present condition. It appears to be a neurological problem, this is really sad because it's a lovely little thing and a female as well. I can only hope that it will either improve as it gets older, or learn to compensate for the instability it has. I have given it my best shot and it enjoys being given a little close gentle attention.

It particularly likes being scratched under it's neck...the one place it cant reach itself ! Short movie clip below.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Rock Dove Recovers

The shot rock dove pigeon is recovering well and now eats happily from my lap. It's wing is still bandaged up and wont know for a while if it has healed successfully. The other one is still alive and doing OK, but needs hand fed, as well as the daily antibiotics. Short movie clip below.

Meanwhile Penny and Duke are still tolerating the orphan cygnet, which has now been with them for a month ! 

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Shot Wounded Pigeons

A Nairn resident turned up at my door last night with 2 Pigeons, both had been shot and wounded. The small grey one has the worst damage.

The rock dove has a broken wing.
Currently treating them as best I can with  hydration, anti inflammatory and antibiotics.

Wildlife Petition Submitted

The petition of 1250 signatures and associated letter was officially handed over to Nairn Town hall on Friday. 

The intended recipient Laurie Fraser the regional councillor, was advised by officials that it could be construed that he would have been seen to be pre judging the deliberations of the council by accepting the petition. It's a sad day that you cant hand over a petition to your Town Provost who also happens to be one of your councillors as well. I will accept this explanation for the moment, and await the council meeting on the matter in due course. Having lost documents in the past that I handed in to Nairn service point, I was assured that the petition would be locked in the title safe for safe keeping, I also got a receipt and I photo copied the entire 1250 signatures as well. I greatly value every single signature that was given,  I hope Highland council will do likewise !

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Chilling Out

With the coldest night of the winter so far, the river birds are feeling the chill and pretty ravenous at feeding time.

Hard penetrating frost means a tough time for the birds generally, finding food and water to drink for the smaller garden birds in particular. Penny and Duke have eased off chasing the stray cygnet, and allowing it to stay in the river meanwhile. It is much smaller than Penny's last brood and also younger, I think this is why penny is unwilling to chase it away yet.

The ducks are gathering on the lower river as they do when the hard weather strikes, moving water does not freeze easily and they have their source of food from the Trust.
Incredibly there as still a duck nesting, I think the mild October weather fooled her and now I am watching like a hawk to see if they will hatch. She is an experienced mother so I await with bated breath !

Friday, 18 November 2016

Rectory Duckling Update

The small stunted growth rectory duckling is still getting TLC and a course of antibiotics. It has been very shaky on it's feet with balance issues. The Vet prescribed a week to 10 days antibiotics, twice a day to tackle any possible ear infection and hopefully restore it's normal balance. If this does not work then the likelihood is neurological damage which is likely to be permanent. Half way through the treatment it's balance seems to have improved a little, fingers crossed it is an ear infection that will be fixed.

Apart from the balance issue, it is normal and shares the garden during the day with some of the other ducks - but keeps it's distance.    

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

President Out Of Touch

This weeks Nairnshire Telegraph gives a partial account of last weeks River community council meeting when I hoped to address some regional councillors. 

None of the 4 councillors were present, but I thought I might as well let the Community councillors hear what I had in mind.This must have been to the delight of the President of the Nairn angling Association, Willie Barron - since he appeared to come to the meeting just to attack me and the Swans Island. He claimed the swans Island was "disastrous", which shows just how out of touch he is. The Swans island has been a fantastic success, not only for the Swans but the whole Town of Nairn. Since it's creation the swans have successfully reared 62 cygnets to full fledge, giving untold pleasure to thousands of locals and visitors during the past 9 years. It has also successfully produced many duck broods as well.

The island was carefully positioned in a spot which had no bearing on the run of the river or it's fishing or fish.
This latest claim is as out of touch as his assertion, that this tiny island could cause the flooding of Fishertown.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Heron, Pinkfoot & Little Grebe

Pleasant Autumn sunshine and a rise in temperature, made for a pleasant day on the riverside. 

The Heron looked good against a golden river, and the Little Grebe was busy catching tiddlers.

A surprise visitor was a Pink foot goose which has been hanging around the island for several days.

Probably wounded by a wildfowl shooter and paddled it's way to the safety of the river. 

Maybe the word is getting around that the Swans island is a safe haven.

Safety for Humans - Lethal for Swans.

Thanks to an observant reader of the Gurn for spotting the potential danger to our resident Swans. 

Network rail have recently installed a safety fence over the river Nairn viaduct bridge.

Today I gave it a close inspection and it could be lethal for any swans flying up river and over this bridge. The new fence is about 4 foot high, meaning the Swans will have to climb faster to avoid colliding with the wires.

Swans are our largest bird and need time and space to get over bridges, this location is dangerous. Network rail have been informed and will fit bird deflectors to give a visual warning of the new fence. Hopefully in the not too distant future !

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Unusual Sparrow

For some time now there has been an unusual Sparrow eating in my garden, along with many others.

It has a lot of creamy white feathers and stands out from all the rest. 

The tail is mainly white, along with the cap of it's head, back of it's neck and some wing feathers too.

It's central claws seem exceptionally long as well.