Tuesday, 4 November 2014

It Swims Like A Duck, It Quacks Like A Duck…..

But it sure as hell doesn’t look like any duck we’ve seen in the wilds of New Zealand before. This male Mandarin Duck has recently appeared on Lake Rotoiti here at the Nelson Lakes. It’s thought that he’s either an escapee from some bird fancier in Nelson or Blenheim or more likely, given we are in the middle of nowhere, someone no longer wanted him & they’ve dropped him off to fend for himself.


And he is fending for himself quite admirably, he is about two thirds the size of the mallard ducks he hangs around with near the jetty, yet I’m sure he is ‘top dog(duck)’. He chases the other ducks out of the way if they get too close and is first to any food thrown to them. He quite happily flies off with the group when they’re finished checking out the people arriving at the lake front.


How stunning is he? What an amazing collection of colours and feather textures on one bird. Nature sure is a wonderful thing. On the other hand, imagine if a clothing designer designed a jacket looking like this, they'd get laughed off the catwalk.


I love his feet, they looked like separate yellow toes but in fact there are black webs in between. I also love his bronze coloured spiky neck ruff which he puffed out whenever another duck got near.


I wonder what will happen to him, maybe DOC will catch him and find him a good home with a pond and other Mandarin Ducks. He must be lonely without other Mandarins around. At least my other favourite odd ducks, the Plumed Whistling Ducks at Anderson Park in Napier, have each other.

While we’re on the subject of ducks, you’ll be pleased to know that there were still nine little ducklings following mum around the camp today. No more losses to report although I shudder to think how many will make it do adultduckhood. They have no fear and spend all day wandering about crossing the road in front of cars and swimming in the pot hole puddles. Along with getting attacked my marauding drakes, mum’s work is cut out keeping an eye on them.


I put a water filled tray outside the van for them to swim in and they loved it.There’s a tiny stream just down a bank to the right of them where they paddle and hunt for food but they kept coming back to the tray to freshen up. I put this tray out for the birds over summer; the blackbirds, thrushes, sparrows and finches all used it.



Next time I looked out I did a double take, either there was something in the water or another family had arrived to check out the free pool. This family have eight ducklings and a mother who means business. She gives me a good whack with her beak and will chase me if I turn to move out of the way. And that’s after I’ve put her duckling back down on the ground!


After a swim to wash themselves, the ducklings settled in groups on the grass in the warm sun to sleep.


But not for long, after five minutes or so Mum was up and off again calling to them to follow.


 I can see it's going to be a busy week for me keeping an eye on these two active families.

Footnote- sadly overnight three tiny ducklings went missing. Three!! I wonder what got them, possibly eels or rats or maybe even the weka that's walking around camp.


8 comments:

  1. Hey, I just stumbled across your blog post. I've just been to Lake Rotoiti (Sept 2015) and the Mandarin Duck is still there. He was happy cruising near the jetty at the back of the lake (near Lakehead Hut) I was so surprised to come across one in the middle of nowhere. The only place had ever seen them before was at a zoo.

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    1. Thanks so much for the update- he has wandered afar, there are no reports of him ever being up at the head of the lake so this is great. Those that worry about him will now know he could be somewhere else.

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  2. This little fella flew in bold as brass and demanded that we feed him some of what we were feeding the Eels at the jetty of St Arnaud. Minced meat and luncheon. Not at all shy and quite a show off for the camera. Such a buzz for myself and the three kids. Fantastic colours and textures aye!!! 14-11-15

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    1. Thanks for commenting, it's great to get an update. I'm pleased he's still finding lots of new friends who look out for him. He is a real character and as you say not at all afraid to boss the mallards and eels about.

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  3. We visited Lake Rotoiti January 2015, and didn't spot this handsome fellow. Although we did have breakfast with an inquisitive short billed duck that we guessed to be a Mandarin female after some Googling. Maybe he isn't alone?

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    1. No, in fact you did see the male Mandarin- he was in disquise and wearing his winter coat. Check him out here, scroll down the post a way and you'll see a comparison- http://tikitouringnz.blogspot.co.nz/2015/03/do-not-feed-ducks.html

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  4. He was still there at St Arnaud to greet me on my birthday 16/07/2016.
    Full of colour and seeming very happy with life.

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    1. Thanks for the update! Glad he's still there and surviving well.

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Thanks for taking the time to comment, it's much appreciated.