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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Last week I had a medical procedure in a hospital in North Adelaide. The procedure – an endoscopy and a colonoscopy – went well and nothing nasty was found, though the lead up to it was challenging. Being on a fast for 25 hours was testing, as was the mixture one has to take to purge one’s alimentary canal, but I survived to tell the tale.
On my way to the hospital we had to pass Elder Park on the banks of the Torrens River immediately to the north of the CBD. This wide expanse of lawned area was being occupied by hundreds of Australian Wood Ducks, all grazing on the grass. I was driving so I was not able to get an accurate estimate of the numbers, but it seemed to be at least 200 or more.
And I didn’t have my camera either, so here is a photo of a family of Australian Wood Ducks taken at the Mt Annan Botanic Gardens in Sydney.
It is quite a common sight to see small flocks of Australian Wood Ducks in many places around Australia where they occur. Sometimes they even gather in loose flocks of many dozens – even hundreds. They are often seen grazing on grasslands, ovals, lawned areas in parklands and along water courses, lakes and wetlands.
The group shown in today’s photos were seen near a watercourse in the Mt Annan Botanic Gardens in the Sydney suburb of Campbelltown. It appears to be a family group with the mother leading the way and all the offspring following. The gardens see many hundreds of visitors daily, so these birds – even the younger one – were not all concerned by our presence. I’ve experienced that lack of timidity in this species when visiting other parks and gardens. It certainly makes photography much easier when the birds hang around – almost as if they are posing deliberately for my camera!