In my last post, I added the Swamp Harrier to my list of birds sighted on the property, lamenting that I had not seen the seven wild ducklings since it appeared. After going back through my photographs for December, I realise I actually have three stories about ducklings – all of them ending in mystery.
This story actually starts two years ago, when a new fence prevented the wild Australian Wood Ducks from walking their ducklings to our dam. Our neighbours had decided to breed pigs and needed to keep the piglets safe. We used to love having wild ducklings swimming on the dam and eating the grass in front of the house, as frequently documented on Fifteen Acres. The last brood to grow to adults on our place were the eight ducklings which the male duck had raised alone when a fox took the female. That was in 2014.
So imagine our excitement when we saw a single tiny duckling walking between two parents. The day before the first sighting, I had walked around the dam and accidentally startled a male duck from a patch of vegetation at the water’s edge. He swam around, calling and drawing my attention, so I suspect the female and the duckling were hiding.
For a week we continued to have sightings of the family. We think they may have had their nest on our property – perhaps in that patch of vegetation. One of the places they sat was under the jetty. I suspect that is what the Swamp Harrier saw on the day I photographed it. In any case, since that day I have not seen the family of three.