The family of Australian Wood Ducks spend much of their day on and around our dam, even though they built their nest under some scrubby bushes just over the fence into the neighbouring property.
All eleven ducklings have survived and have their adult plumage. Although they are still adjusting to their wings, they can also fly. It’s sometimes funny to see the young ducks walking around with their wings placed at awkward angles. Almost as if they are not yet sure which one should be on top, and which one should tuck underneath. When the sun catches their wings at the right angle, it is possible to see the very small irridescent patch of green just above the white edge to the folded wing.
I love to watch them while they graze on the grassy slope leading from the house to the dam. If I’m still, they don’t mind my presence, but if I dare to stand up, they all run, or sometimes fly, into the safety of the water. The ducklings have always grazed in a pack reminiscent of a police search – all of them in a line, heads down, looking for something on the ground they can pick out, in this case to eat. The two parent ducks still keep a watchful eye on the brood, but now allow them to stray further away than when they were small.
The ducks are remarkably quiet. I would expect to hear 13 ducks as they went about their daily business, but the only sound is of one parent calling to keep the brood together with a low-pitched ‘wak-wak’ every so often.
The duckings look like adults, but are still physically smaller than their parents. So while we may see them for a short time, while they grow to full size, it won’t be long until they fly off to make their own way in the world. When they do, I will really miss them. We’ve come to think of them as ‘our ducks’, even though we know they aren’t. Hopefully they will come back next year and breed here again. In the meantime, I am going to enjoy every minute while I watch them forage for food.
Here are a small selection of the hundreds of photos I have taken over the past couple of months. If you receive this by email, click to enlarge the photos, or click on the link to the blog so you can scroll through the gallery of photos more easily.