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Tuesday, 6 March 2012


Took my usual evening walk at about 5:30. Unlike other evenings I was all bundled up against the chill. It seems that the reason tropical storm Irina moved out to sea is the arrival of a cold front from the south west. According to the weather bureau Irina will be back over the week end.

Although the effect of the tropical storm was not as bad as was expected over land, out at sea it was a different matter. A cruise liner, the MSC Symphony, that left Durban harbour at 5pm on Sunday, had to return after encountering 12 meter swells, that's about 40 feet.  

Click on photos to enlarge.

Above an Amur falcon. This shot shows the birds distinctive markings and red feet. 

While walking along the dam wall of the biggest dam on the farm, the dogs decided to go and explore the long grass and marshy ground at the base. In doing so they flushed a Yellow-billed duck and several quite large ducklings. The duck did it's broken wing imitation and lured Lady and Thombi away, Sissy managed to catch one of the ducklings.

Sissy came charging up the dam wall with the duckling in her mouth straight towards me. Realising that my intentions towards her prey were not honourable she changed direction and headed away from me along the dam wall. I ran after her shouting at her to put it down. Eventually she stopped with the duckling still in her mouth, I thought it was dead. Torn between her hunting instincts and obedience she put the duckling down.

Quick as a flash it was on it's feet and into the water only to be attacked by three Black-smith lapwings. It dived under the water and disappeared. I looked to see where it would surface but it stayed down. After a while I saw it lying half submerged on it's side not far from where it had dived. Thinking that the poor bird had succumbed to it's injuries and shock, I raised my camera to photograph it, only to have it dive again. It had only been playing dead.

I kept watching the water to see where it would surface, but no duckling. After a while I became aware of something small floating on the surfaced. I focussed on it with the cameras zoom lens and realised it was the duckling head and bill, the rest of the body was submerged. 

In the photo above you can see the ducklings bill and head just above the water. If you look carefully you can see the rest of the body under the water.

After luring the other two dogs away, the mother duck circled the dam giving alarm calls to warn her brood to stay under cover. Eventually she landed on the far end of the dam from where we were.


e.m.b. said...

Thank you for taking my eyes along with you on your evening walk. I love the attention you give the birds. That falcon is so striking! Beautiful.

Kay L. Davies said...

Wow, that was a determined duckling! Survival instinct for sure, Phillip!