And then there were nine…with apologies to Agatha Christie!

Last year, the pair of Australian Wood Ducks successfully raised eleven ducklings to maturity, and we were hoping they would be able to do the same for the twelve ducklings in this year’s brood.  The ducks frequently walk from wherever they nest  to the grass verge in front of the dam to forage, and this gives us an opportunity to check numbers. Twelve days ago we noticed there were only ten ducklings, and today there were nine.

Looking at their healthy growing bodies, they don’t lack food, so I guess the culprit is a fox, an owl or a raptor of some description.

Fluffy ducklings are an irresistible photographic opportunity, so I hope you don’t mind indulging me with these shots. The first four were taken on 28 September and show ten ducklings.  The second four were taken today and nine.

The ducks love this spot. It must have lots of juicy insects for them to eat.
The ducks love this spot. It must have lots of juicy insects for them to eat.
Ten Ducklings 2
Unfortunately, the magpie does dive-bomb them, and at the first hint of trouble, they run for the water.
Ten Ducklings 3
The male adult Australian Wood Duck with some of the ducklings – looking at their dark heads, they seem to be all male ducklings.
Ten Ducklings 4
Meanwhile, nearby, the female duck appears to have three female ducklings with her. Notice the stripe across their eyes and the paler heads.

In the next four photos, taken today, you can see how much they have grown over the last twelve days.  Before we know it, they’ll be flying!

Nine Ducklings 1
The group head toward their favourite spot, under a large eucalypt.
Nine Ducklings 2
I chose to share this photo because I love the different body shape created by the stance of the female (left) and male(Right) adult ducks.
Nine Ducklings 3
When they are walking and eating, the family group look like an eating machine weaving its way back and forth over the grass.
Nine Ducklings 4
You can see the plumage from most angles in this shot.

 

2 thoughts on “And then there were nine…with apologies to Agatha Christie!

    1. Thanks! It always makes me smile when they group together and run. The adult birds are highly attentive and I still don’t know what the signal is, but whenever it is given, the ducklings are instantly on alert and running in formation. Often one parent is at the front and the other at the back. I’ve seen the male bird chase the magpie to protect the others.

      My attempt to photograph this was unsuccessful, but the male duck sneaked around the back of the tree, and then burst out running and flapping his wings madly at the unsuspecting magpie. Unfortunately, a second magpie appeared and together the magpies were able to drive the duck back into the dam. I find it amazing that this doesn’t daunt the ducks. They wait five minutes and then come back to where they were. The food must be good in that spot!

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