The word on the street was there were 13 newly-hatched ducklings on the Parramatta River in the area around Buttons Bridge. This we had to check out. After spotting them on the western bank the day before, we returned the next day with camera to find them on the eastern bank. No apologies for the number of photos, but strap in for an epic. It was cuteness overload!
The Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata) is a medium-sized grazing duck native to Australia. It is the only living member of the genus Chenonetta (New Zealand’s Finsch’s Duck – Chenonetta finschi – became extinct in the 1870s).
It is widespread throughout Australia, apart from the extreme tropics and the most arid parts of the interior.
Most bird guides state that 9 to 11 eggs are laid, but we have seen figures that suggest 14 to 17 is common. There have been reports of a brood of 30, but it is unclear whether this was due to “Creching”. All 13 of these little ones are in this shot:
The ducklings were achingly cute:
The lesson today seemed to be getting into and out of the water in difficult locations. The female led the ducklings to part of the bank with a stonewall drop of a couple of metres, and they stood around in some trepidation.
Through a tragic fluke of inattention, I missed the mass jump into the water, but all 13 brave ducklings made it without incident!
The handsome couple took their charges on a swim across the river….
The siblings all stuck pretty tightly together…
Then it was an about-face, and a swim back…
Mum led the ducklings downstream under the bridge. She had a test in mind.
She led them a slightly challenging exit point, and left them to it:
One duckling made it fairly quickly and joined Mum on the bank:
A few resolute kids stuck at it for a while, giving it all they had:
Mum called them on….
…and a few more determined kids made it up :
The remainder considered their options, and whether through a flash of inspiration, or from some clue from the mother’s calls, they made their way back upstream to an easier landing place:
Mum guided them the rest of the way:
Further foraging cuteness ensued:
Fed, and tired after their ordeal, the ducklings joined their mother on a warm dry mound of twigs for a sleep:
One by one they squeezed themselves in and around her:
Believe it or not – this is a photo of 14 Australian Wood Ducks!
So wonderful to see these behaviours first-hand in an urban green space like Parramatta Park.