It is with some embarrassment that I post this article. For several reasons.
The first is that during the cooler months of the year we have two and sometimes three Pacific Black Ducks visit our garden, specifically to take a dip in our swimming pool – or should I call that Le Swamp? (I’m not very good at maintaining it.) On several occasions we have had to rescue about a dozen little ducklings that have followed their mother into the pool, only to find that they cannot get out again and head off down to the river a few kilometres away. We love seeing the ducks up so close, but I do feel embarrassed about the state of the “pool”.
Late last week I was sitting on the back veranda enjoying the lovely spring sunshine and reading a good book. It could have even been The Good Book. The ducks flew in and skidded on the surface of the pool water before settling down for a spot of sun as well.
After about ten minutes they both entered the water and began excitedly circling each other, constantly dipping their beaks into the water. Now comes embarrassing admission #2. I actually witnessed them in a moment of passionate embrace! The male mounted the female, grabbing her neck feathers in his beak and holding her head just out of the water. Her body was totally submerged.
This wonderful moment was followed by ten minutes of excited flapping, splashing, ducking under the water and general preening as the couple celebrated their union.
I wonder if we’ll have a raft of ducklings in the pool in a few weeks time?
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.