CHESTNUT TEAL (Anas castanea)

CHESTNUT TEAL (male) – JAPANESE GARDEN, MELBOURNE ZOO
CHESTNUT TEAL (female) – JAPANESE GARDEN, MELBOURNE ZOO

Chestnut Teals are very common water birds and although classified as medium-large, are actually pretty small as far as dabbling ducks go.  The adult male has a very distinctive dark green head and black-speckled chestnut breast and belly.  The depth of green can seem very different depending on the light or sunshine on the day of being photographed (I notice in my bird photo library).

The females and eclipse (non-breeding) males are mottled brown, similar, but darker than a Grey Teal.  I find them hard to tell apart until I realised the Grey Teal has a much lighter neck, so my ability to identify them is improving.  There’s a mallard that has similar feather colouring too.

Chestnut Teals and Grey Teals both have red eyes.  I took a couple of photos of them down on the water last Wednesday, but the shadows on the birds were too dark to make the shots worth sharing, despite fiddling around with the contrast in post processing.

Most of the images above, were taken in the Japanese Garden at Melbourne Zoo.  The pond and landscaping is not enclosed or fenced, so I guess the avian inhabitants are either there for the free food or like the sheltered area of the water.  I noticed some of the birds do have leg tags though.

Next to the pond just outside the Wallaby/Kangaroo/Emu enclosure I saw this pair (below) which (seemingly) matched each others head position as I photographed them, but I suppose it might have been co-incidence.  This is not the first time I have seen bird pairs turn their heads in unison though.

…….and my favourite image of a Teal, (despite accidentally chopping the bird’s feet off).  I was concentrating so hard in getting the bird’s eye in sharp focus (which is what makes a good bird shot), I completely missed the fact that the feet were not in the frame.

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PACIFIC BLACK DUCK (Anas superciliosa)

One of the most common ducks I see in public parks, gardens, on lakes, rivers and nature reserves is the Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa) and the image above, made at Ringwood Lake, in the outer eastern suburb of Ringwood where I was born, is my favourite image.  It’s not necessarily the best shot in my Photo Library – I just love the natural setting.

Here’s a few more of the many images I’ve made over the years, since I’ve been photographing Birds.

PACIFIC BLACK DUCK – RINGWOOD LAKE, RINGWOOD (outer eastern suburb of Melbourne).  This Lake was an excursion when we were very small children as it had a playground and swings.  Nowadays, it has more formal landscaping, a bridge and little sun shelter shed in the middle of the lake.
PACIFIC BLACK DUCK fast asleep next to NYMPHAEA LAKE, ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, MELBOURNE
Not a good shot per se, as the head & eye is out of focus, but I love this photo as it shows the colours beneath its wings. NYMPHAEA LAKE, ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, MELBOURNE
PACIFIC BLACK DUCK – ORNAMENTAL LAKE, ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS. This image is one of only a few where I had the long 150-500 telephoto lens on a tripod. I don’t think I had a remote shutter release cable back in those days, or even if I remembered to turn the image stabilising switch off (as you do when using a tripod).
PACIFIC BLACK DUCK – ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, MELBOURNE
I was crouching low on the ground to take this photo and was so intent on getting the focal point on the eye, I accidentally chopped off the bird’s feet from the image, but I like the photo all the same as it reminds me of the fun I had crouching down so the duck wouldn’t see me. JUST BELOW DIGHTS FALLS ON THE YARRA RIVER, ABBOTSFORD (an inner north-eastern suburb of Melbourne).
Not a great photo per se, but I saw this female PACIFIC BLACK DUCK (with her 12 ducklings – not all in the frame) down a slope near a bank of THE ORNAMENTAL LAKE, ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, MELBOURNE

The Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne are actually located in the inner south-east suburb of SOUTH YARRA (where I used to live on/off for about 25 years).  I WORKED across the road from THE HERBARIUM on the south-west corner of the Royal Botanic Gardens for 16 1/2 years, so my 15 minute walk to my office was often made through the RBG (and even around the whole 38 hectare site after work).

As I have often said on my various photo blogs, I’ve probably walked through, or around the Royal Botanic Gardens, somewhere between 8,000-10,000 times and know the Gardens intimately.  This estimation is no exaggeration.  If I was blindfolded and led around its many pathways, I could probably tell you exactly where we were by the flower and/or leaf scent alone.

It would be both interesting and great fun to see all the landscaping changes since I moved away from the area in April 2015.  There is just so much to see throughout the seasons in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens, but as to  the right time of year to visit, I suppose it must be Spring – the first 2 weeks in September, although the Perennial Border is re-furbished so that the flowers and colours are at their best in around mid-January (as shown in the image below which covers about 1/4 of the Perennial Border’s floral display).   The old restored buildings below are now Function Rooms and host to many weddings, large dinners and parties.