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Duck Trails

The swamp/pond in the reserve below my block generally looks like a smooth bowling green. But now and then I see dark tracks through the algae topping carpet.

Going closer to investigate, I see two handsome Black Ducks entering the water, joining another bird that from a distance I assume will be a Purple Swamp Hen.

The ducks begin effortlessly gliding across the pond, trailblazing as they go. The trails close back over quite quickly. I could see four Black Ducks on the pond in all.

Black Ducks (Anas superciliosa) are common all over Australia. For once, males and females are similarly striking: the black eye stripes, peach cheeks and stunning individually outlined feathers, with a flashy emerald green ‘speculum’ hiding amongst them.

The other lone waterbird has me baffled. The colours aren’t right on the head and that distinctive yellow/lime beak has me beat. Could it be a Coot in a particular phase? Can anyone help?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharyn Munro May 30, 2018 at 10:27 am

Many thanks Joy. The lack of red on the bill threw me!
And yes Helen, the graceful gliding is a good lesson!

Joy Window May 30, 2018 at 7:46 am

Hi Sharyn. The white ‘bum patches’ are the same as on the Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa) and that bird also has a yellow tip to the bill, but it’s usually red above the yellow tip. According to Michael Morcombe’s fieldguide, the non-breeding plumage is ‘olive, some smudged black, dull red’. Your bird looks purple, but dusky moorhens are grey-ish – maybe the purple is an artefact of the photo.

Helen V Proud May 30, 2018 at 1:57 am

Ducks exist it seems to me to encourage humans to slow down, glide through their day, take advantage of the food at hand – or under foot – and to go gently into the distance leaving irrationality, discord, anxiety behind.

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