Paradise duckling tales

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Around 1 November 2011 I spotted a paradise duck mother surrounded by a real lot of fluffy down feather balls on the banks of the river Avon in Christchurch while driving past. I could not stop and was in a hurry anyway, so I decided to visit them a few days later. On 5 November I counted 18 ducklings. Since then I have photographed and filmed the feathered family on many occasions in order to document how they were going on.

Today is 2 February 2012. There are 11 ducklings left. The close-knit family unit are grown individuals now. It has been an enjoyable journey, and sad as well, of course, as so many ducklings have been lost. I have learnt a lot about these birds. What has impressed me most is the parent ducks' absolute dedication to their young. If only all human parents were that passionate about raising their babies. And it has been amazing how fast the ducklings have been growing.

I have posted photos and stories on these pages. I have added a few German translations of keywords and sentences, so my German readers (who are the majority on this website) can learn some technical terms.

On the photo on the right you see the 18 ducklings about five days after hatching,

staying close together when swimming behind the mother duck.

Who are they?

The exact name of paradise ducks is paradise shelduck, lat. Tadorna variegata, Maori: Putangitangi. These large birds are goose-like ducks, and they can only be found in New Zealand. They are the only bird species where the female (the one with the white head and orange-chestnut coloured body) looks more striking and colourful than the male. The male's head is black, and his plumage is darker.

Deutscher Name: Paradieskasarka.

Diese Halbgans ist in Neuseeland endemisch. Es ist die einzige Vogelart, bei der das Weibchen (weißer Kopf und kastanienfarbenes Gefieder) auffälliger und farbenprächtiger ist als das Männchen.

The duck behavioural analyst at work (Entenforscherin bei der Arbeit).

Photo taken on 31 December 2011, the ducklings are two months old.

Not all my photos are of perfect quality because the sun/shade conditions are very hard to deal with, and the mother duck's white head and the sun reflecting on the water do not make it any easier. I have to photograph when I am there and cannot wait for perfect conditions - which, in this case, would be no sunshine. The water is always a challenge.