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.
Over recent days I’ve been sharing about bird sightings on a trip to Mannum on the Murray River recently. While I was sitting in Mary Ann Reserve watching the birds on and near the river these two Pacific Black Ducks swam past. I took the photo without noticing the orange tips on their bills.
It was only when I enlarged the image on my computer that I noticed the orange. That’s not normal in this species. The only explanation I can offer is that they have hybridised with Mallards at some stage. There are feral populations of Mallards in the region. Mallards are an introduced species and feral groups exist where they have been released or have escaped from farms or back yards.
I’d be interested in readers’ comments on this little mystery.
Meanwhile, I took the following photo just before leaving to go home. These two Pacific Black Ducks had been sitting on the grass alongside me while I photographed all the other birds shown here recently. They didn’t seem at all concerned that I was only about 2 metres away.
Pacific Black Ducks and Grey Teal are probably the most common and well known ducks found in Australia. They are very common in parks, on lakes, rivers and reservoirs and can even be found in private gardens. More than once we’ve had ducklings in our swimming pool.
They are one of most recognisable birds and are very popular in public parks and gardens where people love to feed them. I don’t encourage this practice as the food – often bread – is not only unsuitable for ducks, it is potentially harmful to them.
Pacific Black Ducks are generally quite unafraid of people, especially in public places like the Laratinga Wetlands in South Australia. This makes them excellent subjects for photography.
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!