This young Mallard duck was having a good feed from beneath the water of the lake on Friday. I loved the way the water flicked off his feathers but also the remarkably beautiful details, speckles and dapples of his changing plumage.
Tag Archives: Whitby lake
Random beauty from the week
More on the Australian Coot chicks
Before I visited the local shops I went down beside the lake to see the progress of the Australian Coot chicks which I have been following since my first post on 6th October 2014.
I have blogged about them here, here, here and here.
It has been a month since I visited the lake and of course the chicks have grown hugely in that time.
There were signs of greater independence from the chicks and greater reluctance to feed by the adults. In a new move I found an adult and two chicks grazing on the grass alongside the path.
As long as I stood very still they were very happy to pass close by me and for me to get a very good look at these remarkable birds.
Constantly on the move meant anticipating when to click the shutter but here they are and look at those feet!
This close up photograph of the adult bird’s feet show fascinating webbing.
No wonder they can zip through the water at speed when they want to. The feet of the young are very similar showing that nature prepares new generations very well for survival. Factor in such vigilant and devoted parents and these chicks have had a great start to life.
I’m looking forward to seeing the striking white beak and white marking above the beak emerge fully on the juveniles.
A Pukeko Tale…….Tail
While out and about yesterday afternoon I popped in to have a look for the Australian Coots and other waterfowl families at the Whitby Lake.
My walk took me down to the more sheltered part of the lake where I spotted an adult Pukeko and two young grazing up on the grassy slope while another adult was preening in clear water.
The Pukeko was naturally very cautious so I needed to use the zoom on the camera at almost full stretch and so lost sharpness but I love the glorious colours on these birds.
And look at those pristine white undergarments!
Peeping noises alerted me to this young one who was not far from the adult in the water.
I became aware of peeping noises behind me and turned to find this younger bird scuttling on those very long, gangly legs, as fast as it could to rejoin the family group.
Legging it across the stream on enormous wader’s feet and off to safety.
Family time at the Lake
I nipped down to post a package on Wednesday and took a few minutes to see how the Coot family was faring. The wind was bitterly cold and at first there was just a sole parent in their usual spot. Across the other side of the lake I could see another pair of adult Coots and their young one so I went around the path to try and get some photos of that family.
However the Black Swan family were on the look- out for food or for dangers and with rather a lot of out-stretched neck movements from the parents I thought better of going towards them. I felt happier to pause and take photos of them once they were in the lake with their flotilla of 6 cygnets.
By the time I retraced my footsteps I spotted the Coot family I have photographed here and here and here. Look at these well-grown chicks now!
The devoted parents were working very hard to fill these bellies and I suspect it will not be long before the young are being encouraged to dip, head first, tail upwards into the lake to find food.
In a nice warm sheltered spot I found Mr and Mrs Duck and their three tiny ducklings. Mrs Duck close by and father duck on sentry duty.
And not far away in the shelter of a church building the Pukekos had bought their balls of fluff on extraordinarily long legs, out to graze and sun bake on the warm concrete path.
Family time at the Lake
It is 12 days since I visited the local Lake and took some photos of the Australian Coot family and other water fowl.
Today near the edge of the lake was a parent and one chick.
Look at the size of those big paddling feet. It is no wonder that the Coot chicks can scoot along like little speed boats at times.
There was no sign of the other parent or the second chick so I decided to walk around the path further in the hope that I would find them on the more sheltered side of the rushes.
No luck there but I could see the Pukeko family together in bulrushes much closer to the path. I set off in that direction but rounded a corner to see this family heading my way.
Caution was the option I took and after taking two photos of the high-stepping proud parents and their fluffy cygnets I retraced my footsteps and left the swans to their outing.
As I neared the path back to the shopping centre I spotted the two Australian Coot parents and both chicks.
Feeding the young ones was very much the business of the day. The parents repeatedly dived to pluck weed or vegetation to offer to the peeping chicks.
Then one of the chicks swam off in a very independent manner to balance on a bulrush and peck at the foliage or perhaps to rest up with a full belly.
“For every act of senseless violence in the world, use your camera to record random acts of beauty” Dewitt Jones
The Common Cormorant or Black Shag….
As I was watching the Coot chicks at the lake yesterday this Black Shag flew in and stood on the wooden pontoon that is attached to the concrete of the lakeside path.
The wind was perfect for drying feathers because despite being water birds and looking very oily and waterproof these birds must dry their wings.
Shags are swift underwater swimmers, with a sharp hooked beak to help them catch fish, eels and small crustaceans. They are often seen sitting on a perch with their wings spread out, drying their feathers. This is because shags’ feathers are not waterproof. This makes it easier for them to dive and stay under water for an average of 20 to 30 seconds per dive (the observed record for kawau is 58 seconds). But it also means the birds quickly get waterlogged and cold. So after a bout of fishing, shags must spend a lot of time preening and drying to restore their feathers and warm up.
This handsome bird kept a very wary eye on me as I approached. The various turns and moves it made reminded me of a conductor in front of an orchestra or of a person relishing the first taste of summer warmth with outstretched arms.
But I also heard this nonsense poem that my Dad used to enjoy…..
The common cormorant or shag
Lays eggs inside a paper bag
The reason you will see no doubt
It is to keep the lightning out
But what these unobservant birds
Have never noticed is that herds
Of wandering bears may come with buns
And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.
By Christopher Isherwood.
Spring chick update
I had some time yesterday to visit the local lake again to see how the Australian Coot family was doing. We had a taste of summer yesterday with a warm, steady breeze blowing and lots of sunshine.
The Coot chicks have definitely grown and they were out on the more open side of the bull rushes with their ever attentive parents. Despite the choppy water the chicks swim very strongly and are beginning to look a little more like their parents.
The parent birds were keen to keep their young near the protection of the rushes so photographs were a bit trickier but I think you will see the growth that has occurred in 5 days.