AUSTRALIAN WOOD DUCK (Chenonetta jubata)

Just after I uploaded the previous post, I came across these images from the 25th September 2013 and back came the memories of the day of shooting.

This was back in the day of long Nature walks and hundreds of photos taken in the one afternoon – in the local parks and gardens around Melbourne city, down the beach, at the Zoo, in Nature Reserves, or just plain setting off with no particular destination in mind.

This particular day I’d caught a bus to the Fitzroy Gardens to the beautiful old Conservatory and then, crossed the road to the Treasury Gardens with its lovely pond and rows of enormous old trees either side of the main walking path.  Office workers from nearby tall office buildings come to this pond in the warm weather to eat their lunch or meet up with friends for an hour.

The Treasury Gardens in Melbourne are located on the eastern rim of the city’s CBD (Central Business District) below.

I spotted a number of little Australian Wood Ducklings and spent quite a while kneeling down about 8-10 feet away capturing these little bundles of joy.   It seems I’ve lost a few of the series, but still retained enough to share online.

There were 10 little Ducklings on the 25th September visit.

Mother Duck herding her offspring into line for the (long) waddle to a different area of the pond.
Easy to see what she was ‘quacking’ in this photo.

Then back again a few days later on the 30th revealed 4 more (to make 14 ducklings).

Only 2 adults that I could see, so where did the 4 extra ducklings come from?

Were the 2 adults baby-sitting?   Do ducks have more than one set of offspring in a season?   Or worse, had the 4 new ducklings lost their parents?

I never found out.

They all jumped off the pond edge and swam away. Check out the duckling on the right side of the frame who was practising her ‘walking on water’ skills.
Looks like they had fun exploring the water plants.
Then Mama demonstrated how to clean and realign their feathers.
Can you see the difference in the size of the ducklings? The seated ones are much smaller than the others. Going by my observations of birds in general, I’d say the smallest were about 5-8 days old.
None of them seemed bothered by my proximity.

When I knelt down close, Papa Australian Wood Duck started to get very annoyed and confronted me with a stern warning to back off.

Since I was almost eye to eye with Papa at this stage, I hurriedly got up and walked away.

On the other side of the pond, I came across a few ‘teenagers’ and managed to get a shot of this young male.

Alas, all the rest of the duck images taken that week have disappeared with the rest of the missing images in the Mists of Time, but I was so glad to come across these few again tonight in my image Library.

Note the males have brown heads and the females have a stripe above and below the eye. I’ve never ever seen a young duckling with a brown head, so, do they all have striped heads when they’re born and the males acquire the all-brown heads as adults OR what?

Who knows.   It’s after midnight so I won’t be surfing the net to find out.   My Australian Bird Guide book doesn’t reveal the answer.

Hope you enjoyed the viewing.

AUSTRALIAN WOOD DUCK (Chenonetta jubata)

GOING BY THE DATE OF THE SHOT, THIS JUVENILE FEMALE AUSTRALIAN WOOD DUCK MUST HAVE BEEN ON THE MARIBYRNONG RIVER
A YOUNG MALE AUSTRALIAN WOOD DUCK – RINGWOOD LAKE, RINGWOOD (AN OUTER EASTERN SUBURB OF MELBOURNE WHERE I WAS BORN……ehrr IN A SMALL PRIVATE HOSPITAL (now demolished and replaced with a massive shopping centre), NOT IN THE LAKE.

The long neck and upright posture gives the duck the appearance of a small goose.  The male has a brown head with substantial drooping crest, chestnut-speckled grey breast, grey body and black rump, tail and under tail coverts.

ORNAMENTAL LAKE, ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, MELBOURNE
JUVENILE FEMALE AUSTRALIAN WOOD DUCK – TREASURY GARDENS, MELBOURNE

The female has distinctive stripes above and below the eye on a brown head.

NOT MUCH WATER LEFT IN THE MARIBYRNONG WETLANDS AT THE END OF SUMMER, 2017.
THIS FEMALE WAS CLEARLY INTENT ON SCARING ME OFF WHEN I GOT TOO CLOSE TO HER LARGE BROOD OF DUCKLINGS.
THIS SHOT FROM THE TREASURY GARDENS IN MELBOURNE CLEARLY SHOWS THE DUCKLINGS HAVE THE STRIPE ABOVE AND BELOW THE EYE,  DENOTING FEMALES.

I haven’t followed this up, but every tiny duckling I’ve ever seen, (and I’ve seen and/or photographed many), seems to have the stripe up and below the eye.   So I’m not sure whether all ducklings have this and the males head feathers change to all-brown as they grow OR, I’ve only ever seen female ducklings 🙂

I ASSUME THIS IS A TEENAGER ABOUT TO SHED ALL ITS SOFT DOWNY FEATHERS. THIS IS ONE VERY UGLY DUCKLING.
MORE TEENAGERS IN THE ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, MELBOURNE