On a recent visit to Clare late last year I took off about a half hour from helping my daughter in her garden and took a five minute walk down the road to Lake Inchiquin. Yesterday I wrote about some of the birds I saw.
One of the highlights was this little family of Pacific Black Ducks. From the size of the ducklings I’d say that they are about half grown. It was a lovely sight and they let me come to within a few metres of them.
I guess they knew that I wouldn’t dive in and harm them in any way.
A few weeks ago I wrote about a pair of Pacific Black Ducks mating in our swimming pool. We have been waiting expectantly ever since for the arrival of a little band of ducklings. They usually head for our swimming pool, and then can’t get out again.
This has happened every year now for about 6 or 7 years. It’s possibly the same pair each year. Despite thorough searches we have been unable to locate the actual nest on every occasion. One of the problems they face is once they get into the pool, they are unable to get out. Very soon they can die of either hypothermia or drown (because their feathers are not yet water repellent).
To cater for this problem we have made a wooden framed ramp covered with wire netting. We usually throw an old towel over the netting and it doesn’t take the ducklings long to find out that this is a way out of the water.
This year it was a little different. Mother duck headed off across our small paddock with four ducklings in tow. One poor little fellow missed the on ramp and swam under it, causing him to be separated from his siblings. Trevor came to the rescue. While my wife watched the family movements I managed to scoop up the lost baby and then run after the mother and the other ducklings carrying the almost abandoned duckling. Soon they were reunited and on their way.
Not sure if they headed for the River Murray some 4 kilometres away, or stopped over at a storm water drainage dam about a kilometre over the paddock.
With all the excitement of the rescue attempt, I didn’t get a photo!
As I awoke this morning I was aware of quacking noises outside.
Now, although we live in Murray Bridge which is situated on the Murray River, Australia’s longest river, our property is a good five kilometres from the river.
The quacking persisted. Those ducks are here again, I thought. Pacific Black Ducks are common in this area and are not restricted to just the river itself. It is not usual to find them in parks and gardens. Two, sometimes three, are regular visitors to our own garden.
“Our” ducks have taken a liking to our in-ground swimming pool (affectionately known as “the swamp” – look at the photos and you will know why). Almost daily they visit for a swim or just to laze by the poolside. They don’t seem to mind how frosty it gets here in winter, poolside is the place to be.
Last year they slipped a surprise under our radar. Before we knew it, we were the adopted “grandparents” of six ducklings. Sadly, their parents abandoned them. We quickly discovered that raising little ducklings is not a skill one acquires overnight. They were far too weak, cold, wet and hungry when we took over as substitute parents, and they all died, despite our best efforts.
Update: this post was updated on 5th November 2013 with better photos. The mother duck with ten ducklings was taken on another occasion.