Over the many years of writing this blog and sharing my photos of Australian birds, I have often written about the Australian Wood Duck. I love seeing these birds and they are usually quite unafraid of humans, intermingling quite easily.
My most recent encounter with this species was on a visit to the Australian Botanic Gardens in Mount Annan in south-west Sydney. I spent several pleasant hours photographing the native plants in flower. I have posted a few of those photos below.
I was not surprised to see a few of this species in the gardens, especially around or near to the lakes which make up an important part of the botanic gardens. Near one of the lakes, there is an extensive area of lawn which many people use for their picnics when visiting the gardens. The various types of ducks can often be seen grazing on the lawn.
The couple of birds shown in today’s photos caught me by surprise. They were right in one of the garden beds. They were actually pecking at some of the leaves of the plants in one of the beds. This species normally eats grasses, herbs and occasionally insects, so I should not have been surprised that they were eating some of the plants making up the botanic gardens.
I guess that they were just sampling the plants in case they were tasty. Or perhaps they just wanted a treat – or a change of diet.
A beautiful spot near our home in Murray Bridge is the nearby town of Mannum. This pleasant community is also built on the banks of the River Murray. It is about a half hour drive from home. Mannum has several lovely picnic spots on the bank of the river. We had our picnic overlooking the river and all the bird life in a sanctuary near the caravan park.
Mannum has two vehicular ferries crossing the river at one end of the main street. These ferries are always on the go during the day. They offer a 24 hour river crossing service. While we were waiting to cross over to the other side we were delighted to see two families of Wood Ducks on the grass bank in a nearby park.
Wood Ducks are common and widespread throughout much of Australia. They are a common sight as the graze near lakes, rivers and dams. They are also very common in parks and gardens where there is a water feature.
On our visit to the Wittunga Botanic Gardens a few days ago we were approached by quite a few Wood Ducks. I guess they thought that we were going to give them some kind of food handout. They obviously hadn’t seen us eating our lunch before we went on our walk through the park.
I had seen Wood Ducks on many previous occasions. Not until I started taking these photos did I realise how different the male and female are in this species. They were so accommodating I hardly needed to use the zoom lens on my camera either.
And didn’t they pose beautifully for me?
On our most recent trip to Sydney in October, we were primarily there to look after our two grandchildren (ages 8 and 5) during the school holidays. This is a very pleasant duty we enjoy several times a year. They are, however, very energetic children and so there comes a time during our stay when we look for opportunities to have some down time.
Thankfully, my son’s home is only a short drive to some very pleasant parks, including Lane Cove National Park, a mere ten-minute drive away – subject to traffic conditions, of course. On several occasions, we had a few hours to ourselves, so we packed the folding chairs, a picnic lunch, a thermos for a cuppa and some biscuits. I always remembered to take my binoculars and camera with as well.
At one point I noticed a small family of Australian Wood Ducks grazing on the grass near where we had our chairs located. I grabbed my camera and managed a few nice shots of them. At one point, the male of the group stood guard on one of the picnic tables (see photo at top). He was obviously keeping watch over his little family of three young ones.
Although the male was on guard, he didn’t seem all that perturbed that I had approached to within a few metres to take my photos. This national park is very popular, and there are hundreds of visitors daily and probably thousands every weekend, seeing it is so close to the well-populated Chatswood CBD. I have found other species equally unafraid of humans, including some Laughing Kookaburras who snatched some of my wife’s lunch the same day I took the photos on this post. (In a few days I will post an article, with photos of this incident.)
I should add here that this is the Australian Wood Duck, not to be confused with the Wood Duck, a north American species, and quite unrelated as far as I know.
The Australian Wood Duck is a common species found throughout much of Australia, except for the driest parts of the inland. It is usually found near waterways, lakes, swamps and dams, and in parks and ovals, but it also can be see grazing on grasses and pastures quite some distance from water.
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