AussieBirdLife Update

Carnabys Black Cockatoo feeding

Carnabys Black Cockatoo feeding

It’s time for an update on several of my previous posts.

In my post on the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo I said that if you wanted to see them, then you’d be certain to see them at Yanchep National Park. A few weeks later I visited and didn’t see, or hear any of them. They seem to have largely dispersed and small groups of them can be seen all over the northern suburbs, in areas I hadn’t ever seen them before. Presumably this is due to their breeding season, or possibly after a particular source of food. Several of them were feeding in a neighbour’s tree when I took the picture above.

Musk Duck displaying

Musk Duck displaying

I mentioned in my AussieBirdLife post about the musk duck how he would use his tail when displaying. This duck decided to give me a demonstration, incorporating all his best moves at once, like in this picture.

Musk Duck's tail

Musk Duck’s tail

 

 

He opens his beak to let out a loud ‘honk’, holds his chin up to stretch his leathery flap, throws his tail over his back, and caps it off will a big splash of water with his feet.

 

Osprey

No news is good news on the ospreys.  They haven’t started nesting, but then a local wildlife warden told me that they don’t normally nest in this region until September.  It’s usually in northern Australia that they nest in May/June time.  I had a spell of a few weeks when I hadn’t seen them, but I’ve seen them both together again this week.  So maybe I’ll have a nesting update in a couple of months time.

 

Musk Duck – A Very Strange Australian Bird

When I looked this duck up in my bird book, the first comment in the description was ‘A very strange duck’.  Not particularly ornithological, but very true.  As Australian birds go, it’s not as strange as some (think emu or pelican), but still strange.

Musk Duck - A 'very strange' Australian Bird

Musk Duck – A ‘very strange’ Australian Bird

This is a male, with a rather odd flap of skin under his neck.  The females and the young don’t have one, it just develops on the males as they mature.  It doesn’t have a normal ‘quack’ either.  When he’s displaying, the male can manage a combined grunt and whistle at the same time, while the female grunts.

Musk Duck Swimming

Musk Duck Swimming

 

 

They aren’t terribly agile in flight, so they avoid flying most of the time, but they are incredibly good under-water swimmers.  They spend long periods under-water, hunting along the mud on the bottom of the lake or marsh.

 

 

Their tail is different to most ducks too.  When they are under-water, it fans out and helps with balance.  When they sleep, they fan it out on the surface.  And when he is displaying, the male fans it out and flips it over his back to impress the ladies.

Musk ducks are only found in Australia, and only in the south-west, east and south-east.  It gets its name from the ‘musky’ odour it gives off during the breeding season apparently.  I can’t confirm this, but if I ever get close enough to sniff a breeding duck I’ll be sure to let you know.

Musk Duck

Musk Duck – Lake Joondalup