Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Sunday, August 16, 2009

First ducklings of the year in Robbo.

On a warm balmy winters day (it surely felt like Spring) I was lucky to find the first clutch of the Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata) ducklings, today. No doubt it was by chance that today was a warm balmy day for these little guys to be paddling around with their parents. After all, even if they had hatched last week (quite probably) the parents had mated some time before. They have an incubation period of approximately 28 days, plus the large clutch size (there are 10 ducklings in this clutch) means some 38 to 40 days between first egg being laid and the fledging of the chicks.

The male Wood Duck has a dark brown head, and fine silvery body.
The female has a paler brown head, white eye marking,
and heavy flecks on the abdomen and flanks.
So their seasonal timing is great, but the particular weather today is surely fortuitous. But we could all enjoy the good weather together.

As is typical of Wood Duck pairs, the mother duck leads the ducklings away from danger, while the father is keeping himself between the ducklings and danger (me and my camera).
I know this "macho" behaviour is a cliche, and I risk lapsing into an anthropomorphic interpretation of animal behaviour, but I always find this behaviour totally endearing.
The male is standing guard.
He is on the right, and closer to danger than the ducklings.
Interestingly, the last time I saw a Wood Duck family, it was the male which led the way for the family, rather than standing between the ducklings and danger. That sighting was on 8 September 2007, nearly 3 weeks later in the season than today's sighting. Both were on pools beside the Moss Vale Road. Today's sighting was below Burrawang. The previous one, just beyond Sheepwash Road. So they were only 2 kilometres apart.

And here is a sure sign of a late winter day - a Wattle tree in full bloom.

"Green Wattle" - Acacia decurrens - in my yard - image taken this morning.


mick said...

There's a pair of Wood Ducks wandering the road verges close to me but so far no young. Every year before this I have had the fun of watching them with the very cute little ones. I like the way you have photographed the whole family.

Gouldiae said...

Mornin' Denis,
Some nice spring indicators there. We've got some wattles out too, the Rosellas and Wood Ducks are just checking out their hollows, so Heyfield is a bit behind Robbo by the looks.

Miss Eagle said...

Lovely Denis. The wattle is superb. What else is showing signs of spring at your place?


Snail said...

Wattles in bloom --- is there a more uplifting sight?

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Mick, Gouldiae, Brigid and Bronwen.
You're all as sentimental as I am, it seems.
That's the difference between Nature Blogging and pure science. We can allow just a bit of personality intrude into our work.
Thanks for the comments.