30.01.2012 Flying lessons

Running on water and diving deep

This was the most incredible duck study day! Many things were happening that I have

never seen before: paradise ducks diving and swimming under water like dolphins, trying

to take off from the water, the parents allowing other duck species to invade their territory

in droves, the mother feeding like crazy. I gave this interested young man in the photo

some bread to feed the ducks, so I could take some pictures of this surprising behaviour.

The ducklings are now three months old and come and go at any time. It is impossible

to tell their number. I just suppose that it remains at eleven as when I last saw them all together,

or perhaps only ten as last week when I left and mother duck had picked up stray ducklings in

various locations.

It is still possible that a duck gets killed by a dog or a car, like the mallard

that lay sqashed on the centre line of Park Terrace today. Today only up to seven ducklings

and the parents were together at any one time.

Meddling up with mallards and grey ducks (they interbreed a lot) does not mean the paradise ducks do not chase them away at times. But they now tolerate them nearby.

Mum and Smallie after father duck had chased away the "wrong" duck species. Mum was as greedy and hungry as never before. Gone the days when she left all the food to the ducklings.

The females' heads have changed dramatically since I have seen them last week.

They are now white down to the neck, only a few dark patches left.

Standing proud and presenting the new look and the beautiful colours of the females.

Mother and daughter on the water. (Sorry for the unavoidable overexposure of the heads, there was too much reflection.)

After feeding, there suddenly was action on the water. Mum showed them how to do it, and then the ducklings were trying to take off from the water - but did not fully succeed yet. Instead they went diving under the surface for several metres before they showed up again.

These photos are the intro shots from the videos I have taken, therefore the lower quality. I have uploaded one of the videos, here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0a5Mk1W_SrM. Even my husband who thinks I am obsessive with the ducks was impressed...

One big splishing and splashing...

... was going on.

The ducklings chased each other, perhaps to encourage the action.

The other duck species offered the same display just a few metres from the paradise ducks. But they did not dive.

Back on land...

... the great cleaning and drying process started.

Father and son.

Brother and sister.

And let's not forget Smallie...

He still has to catch up with the others.

The bad news of the day: the dead mallard on the road...

... and one of their favourite trees had to be felled.

But overall, what a day - and what an experience!

Unfortunately I cannot go to see the ducks in the next two weeks. Hopefully I will find them

again afterwards, so I can report on their final steps towards adulthood.

For now, thanks to all the people who have cared so much much about this

extraordinary feathered family!