Friday, March 9, 2012

Shearwater Estate's ugly ducklings

It's OK. I'm talking swans and grebes!

The idea that a cygnet could be mistaken for an ugly duckling entertained Hans Christian Anderson. In a similar vein I remember being fascinated to discover that those funny-looking little ducklings that never grew bigger were actually things called grebes!

Whatever can be said about island developers they have certainly been successful in creating what is currently a bird-attracting wetland at Shearwater Estate.

Many other species also frequent the wetland (Ereamea list - 59 species) ..... including actual ducks!

Hoary-headed grebe (Poliocephalus poliocephalus)
Immature bird (similar to non-breeding winter adult plumage)
I think we are seeing here the grebe's nictitating membrane
which is said to serve as a contact lens when diving.
Like water off a grebe's back!

By way of comparison - adult breeding plumage
Fishers Wetland, Phillip Island, 5/1/2009
(all other photos Shearwater estate)
Black swan (Cygnus atratus)

Can reach to scratch anywhere on it's back
and see the spot as well!

Hardhead or White-eyed duck (Aythya australis)
Little pied cormorant (Microcarbo melanoleucos)
Welcome swallows (Hirundo neoxena)
& Fairy martins (Petrochelidon ariel)

1 comment:

  1. Nice photos and such a variety!
    I was wondering about the Grebe's nictitating membrane...
    Would it be transparent in waterfowl?
    From what I have observed in birds of preys, this membrane is thick and whitish,
    one wouldn't see the eye through.
    I am interested in your comment about this!
    Cheers Pate & happy birding!