Thursday, 23 November 2017


The high River earlier this week produced a chance to get a few shots of the Dipper.

                    It still managed to dive in the fast swirling  waters, and get some food among the masses of dead leaves.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Healthy Duke

After 18 hours of rain the river is well up and the birds keen to be fed their daily rations. Duke flew in for a quick boost, with his share of grain, mixed bird seeds, and wholemeal bread.

This time last year he was pretty sick and again last spring. I observed his inner mouth and tongue to be extremely white and anaemic looking.

With this in mind I started to feed him a supplement of dried mealworm, to boost the protein level in his diet. I even gave him some liquid iron which he took initially but then spat it out the following day...proving he does have a sense of taste ! 

Anyhow he has been much more active, has a good appetite and the tongue and mouth are now a healthy pink, as the photos show !

He is still patrolling the river around the island, even with the seal hunting close by.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Penny and Slim Pay a Flying Visit

After 2 weeks away, I was delighted to see Penny and her new mate Slim back in the river.

They both looked in great condition, obviously been feeding well somewhere.

Penny as usual came over to say hello, but then got down to the serious business of chasing Duke.

Slim again stayed in the background, observing Penny and her obvious command and control of Duke and the area.

After a short while and a few nips at Duke  she left him alone and started to bond closely with Slim, they are getting on really well.

As I suspected, she has spent the last month grooming Slim, and showing that she has a home and is strong enough to defend it. Slim is getting a real lesson from a powerful, mature, and established winner !  Sequence of shots shows the days events. They have again departed this evening, but Penny has shown she is keeping an eye on her domain, and like Arnie - she will be back !!

Short vid of penny and Slim getting ready to chase Duke below.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Ducks Feeding Time

The Wintry weather has arrived and drop in temperature can certainly be felt today. With no sign of Duke, perhaps he has gone to join a flock or searching for Penny or food.
The Ducks too are feeling the cold, this is what it's like when I turn up to feed them in the morning. The short video below gives you an idea of the excitement before feeding starts !

Friday, 10 November 2017

Penny Still Away

Our resident female Swan, Penny has now been away for 10 more days with her new mate Slim.
In all her years on the river she has never been away so long. It seems she is determined to find a suitable new mate that she can bring back to her home territory. 

Maybe Slim  is not old or stable enough to be her partner. She has a couple of months to find a new mate and return, before her territory is claimed by another pair. My feeling is she will not give up this nesting site easily, it has been far too successful.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Lonely Duke

Seems like Penny and her new found mate have deserted the river, at least for the time being. Penny and the new mate disappeared last Wednesday, and as yet have not returned. I got the feeling that the new mate was very young and just reaching maturity, and wanted to return to his flock or siblings. Penny might have to do a bit more grooming or searching to find a suitable mate. 

Meanwhile Duke is missing her, and was calling her a few times yesterday. I am sure she will return, as her nesting island has been so successful for her over the past 10 years.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Limpy Grows Up

Limpy, my disabled Drake is beginning to get his adult plumage for the first time.

He has learned to cope with only one good leg, and is able to use his wings when needs be. 

                    I expect he will have full colours by Christmas, and hopefully this will make him more appealing to Disco, who still bullies him from time to time. 

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Duke Reluctant To Leave

As with most Mummy's boys, Duke is reluctant to leave home and is using his knowledge of the river to avoid being chased out. 

Penny however is determined that he will go - sooner or later ! Yesterday Penny and her new mate were nowhere to be seen, and I think they left to find some food more suitable to her new mates taste, leaving Duke alone in the river. 

Today was a different story, with a new spring tide coming during next week, Penny went on the offensive and harassed Duke with a little more aggression.

Flying at him slapping the water loudly with her feet !

She is bonding with her new mate and showing him her Island home, which will have to be defended against all comers from now on.

Sunday, 29 October 2017


A new Chapter has begun in the life of the Nairn swans. As I suspected on my previous post, Penny has returned today with a new partner after a weeks absence.

My observations have proved correct and all is now clear what has actually happened since the Death of Popeye last year. 

Duke is in fact the son of Popeye and Penny. 

How fortunate for Penny that Duke was close to hand after Popeye died, she had a son to keep her company and prevent her losing her island home to another pair of Swans. 

Duke of course was sick a couple of times and had to be rescued, but now back to full health. Penny continued with her life and laid 8 eggs in the spring, but nature decreed that these would be infertile between Mother and son. 

As winter starts, Penny led Duke away to join a flock, as she would have done with any cygnets that might have hatched this year. 

Obviously Penny used the opportunity to seek out a new mate at the same time, and after the last week appears to have succeeded. 

However Duke will need to be persuaded to leave the territory, but Penny will do it gently and gradually as her new mate looks on. 

This is a remarkable tale on the life of a remarkable Swan. Hopefully she will be able to hold onto her new mate and produce another new generation of cygnets next spring. 

He is a handsome fellow and I get the impression that this will be his first mate as an adult, which makes him about 4 years old. 

                   If his markings are anything to go by, I do not think he is related,  Penny seems to have chosen well. 

Unlike Duke he is not accustomed to human contact and is wary, which is no bad thing. 

He is very healthy and slim...which I think might be a good name for him - Slim 

as the last photos show, Interesting times ahead !

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Penny Missing !

Our resident Swan Penny has not been seen since last Sunday. Both she and Duke disappeared after last Sunday evenings feed. However Duke flew in last Wednesday, and has been around ever since...Alone!

This is worrying, most unusual and has never happened before. It leads me to suspect what I have thought on occasions, that Duke is actually directly related to Penny - a Son of several years back. 

This would normally be the season to offload  her cygnet offspring, and since the egg laying was infertile, Duke was in fact the only offspring to offload. As they were both gone for 3 days before Duke returned, it seems likely that Penny has joined a flock somewhere and perhaps trying to find another partner.

The fact is that no truly bonded pair would split up, unless one died or was killed. Penny is in prime condition and still  capable of producing a full compliment of eggs. Although she has never left her River home for any more than 3 days in the past 10 years, this would be the best time to leave and find a mate. 

The territory is safe at this time of year since no Swans will be looking for territory until January. It is exactly a year since she got in tow with Duke so the time is right for Swans to find partners now. If she turns up with a strong male, Duke will most certainly be pushed out. If Penny has retired completely she may just stay with a flock in her old age, but I think she is far from retirement yet. 

The photos are of Duke flying in today against strong blustery  winds.