29 little ducks went out one day

29 Australian Wood Ducks in one clutch, and guess how many there are 6 weeks later – both numbers are phenomenal.

 

australian-wood-duck-kim-wormald-01

Australian Wood Duck, Maned Duck   (Chenonetta jubata)
1/640, f/5.6, ISO 3200

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I was heading to Neds Corner with a friend and we stayed overnight at Buronga, just north of Mildura. We took a wander along the mighty Murray River and saw two adult Australian Wood Ducks with a ridiculously large family. Trying to count the fast-moving flurries of fluffiness was impossible until they left the water and were strung out across the grass – we did numerous check counts and there is no doubt about it, there were 29 tiny ducklings and two extremely busy adults.
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I like the funny little pose of the duckling above as it tiptoes across the muddy bank.
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australian-wood-duck-kim-wormald-02

Australian Wood Duck, Maned Duck   (Chenonetta jubata)
1/640, f/5.6, ISO 3200

 

The weather conditions weren’t good and I needed to crank the ISO up to 3200 to get a shutter speed that was barely fast enough to catch these little beauties. I love the water patterns in the image above as the little duckling paddled furiously upstream.

 

 

 

australian-wood-duck-kim-wormald-04

Australian Wood Duck, Maned Duck   (Chenonetta jubata)
1/1250, f/5.6, ISO 3200

With a little more light coming through the clouds I was able to increase the shutter speed to 1/1250th of a second. With so many ducklings it was tricky to get portrait images as mini photo-bombers turned up in lots of the images.

 

australian-wood-duck-kim-wormald-05

Australian Wood Duck, Maned Duck   (Chenonetta jubata)
1/1250, f/5.6, ISO 3200

 

One moment they were in the water heading east, then they’d turn to the west, then they’d scurry onto the bank.

 

 

australian-wood-duck-kim-wormald-06

Australian Wood Duck, Maned Duck   (Chenonetta jubata)
1/1250, f/5.6, ISO 3200

At one point I was tucked beside a little jetty when they ran towards me; luckily I could still focus with a big smile on my face.

 

australian-wood-duck-kim-wormald-07

Australian Wood Duck, Maned Duck   (Chenonetta jubata)
1/1250, f/5.6, ISO 3200

I love the look of their spiky feathers and absolutely cannot comprehend why anyone would possibly find it ‘sporting’ or ‘recreational’ to hurt this native species.

 

australian-wood-duck-kim-wormald-08

Australian Wood Duck, Maned Duck   (Chenonetta jubata)
1/1250, f/5.6, ISO 800

This raft of ducklings formed briefly before they all scattered again. With the aperture wide open at f/5.6 the depth of field was very shallow with just one duckling sharply focussed, which I think looks cute.

 

australian-wood-duck-kim-wormald-09

Australian Wood Duck, Maned Duck   (Chenonetta jubata)
1/1250, f/5.6, ISO 800

 

They moved remarkably quickly on land and in water.

 

 

australian-wood-duck-kim-wormald-03

Australian Wood Duck, Maned Duck   (Chenonetta jubata)
1/1250, f/5.6, ISO 3200

 

 

The image above was taken a moment before the third image – I’d put them the right way around if it wasn’t past 1am and I wasn’t quite so exhausted.

My friend is back in Buronga this week and saw the ducklings that are now close to fledging; 28 of them have survived! It’s absolutely astounding. The parent birds were impressive to watch when the ducklings were little and they must have maintained their energy and vigilance. The male ran towards walkers while the female pecked at the ducklings if they misbehaved.

I’ve read extensively about wood ducks and it’s agreed that their clutches are between 9-11 ducklings. I’ve also read, somewhere that I can’t re-find, that sometimes a female will lay her eggs in a tree hollow that is already being used by another pair of wood ducks. What is phenomenal about this clutch is that it would have needed three females to lay their eggs in the same tree hollow, at the same time, as all the ducklings appeared to be the same age.

Happy birding, Kim

 

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Exhibition! It’s exciting to see red dots blossoming on the images, and to meet many interesting visitors to the gallery – my thanks to everyone for the wonderful feedback, it’s much appreciated.

Where:  Mont de Lancey Historic Homestead, 71 Wellington Road, Wandin North  03 5964 2088

When:  until Sunday 11 December 2016 – open Wednesdays to Sundays, 10am – 4pm

 

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