Friday, 10 August 2012

There was a Duck ...

This pretty duck featured on an early blog on my Yahell 360 when I was still finding my way. She became a bit of a legend with some of my readers back then, so I could not leave her behind. And now the Multiply social networking site is closing on the 1st of December 2012 so I am saving her again. And my memory with my friend Helluvahgirl, otherwise known as Helly.

Besides ... (I wrote in early Multiply days) ... I saw her yesterday while I was mowing my lawn, she was in the long grass of the back paddock with her newest infants. Her mate was perched on a farm fence post, near to the cows drinking trough, keeping watch.

Its not easy taking pictures of wild birds. Since I tried it I have a lot more respect for professional wildlife photographers. If you don't have the really flash camera gear, or the time to stake out a spot and the patience to wait till your bird hoves into view, you become instead, an opportunist, grabbing your picture when you can.

So last year, when this duck who normally hangs out with her mate in the farm paddocks around us, decided early one morning to come through the wire fence, and check out my gardens, and then perched herself for a birds-eye view of her surrounds on the trellis right here, and very close to the house, despite the alarmed protests of her mate screeching from the paddock edge, we just had to get this photo. Isn't she beautiful?!

This is a New Zealand native duck, her Maori name is Putangitangi but renamed Paradise Shelduck since European colonisation. The female Putangitangi has this distinctive white head and neck, the male has a black head. They mate for life although if she loses her mate, she will love again. Two seasons ago this bird lost her mate during duck shooting season so she is on a second marriage now.

Putangitangi are seen in pairs or in flocks on farmland, or by lakes, ponds, or high country river beds. This duck has her nesting site somewhere in the paddocks behind my house so we see her every spring. She always returns to the same nesting site.

It's easy to see why these ducks got their Maori name, they are extremely articulate birds who are continuously talking or calling out to each other whether on the ground or in flight. Most of the time while one bird is feeding, the other is on lookout duty.

Putangitangi, (there is no pluralising 's' in te Reo Maori), are one of the few native species that seem to have actually benefited from colonisation because they like the open farmland spaces. They graze on the grass and clover, on seeds and stubble, and also like to chomp on standing crops of peas or grain crops. They also eat aquatic vegetation. They are only partially protected. Fully grown birds stand about 63 centimetres high, the adult male weighing in at about 1700 grams, the female at 1400 grams. Breeding season is in the spring from August till December.

Despite the fact that you know they are there, you really don't get to see her babies because she protects them so well, which led to a conversation with my friend "Helly" and to this poem...

blobs in the tall grass

she said:

i liked your blog about the duck.

and i said:

the duck now has two babies.

and she said:

take a photo for the blog.

but i said:

she won’t get close enough to allow me
to photograph her babies
so all you would see is blobs in the tall grass.

and then she said:

that makes a nice poem
“blobs in the tall grass."
you should write that poem broom.
it would be a blob blog.

and we laughed and our yahell emotes rolled around our pm window, cackling in hysteria.

and she said:

you could always take a pic of them
as if it is a study
almost like a baby’s eyes
waking to the world…

and i said - still laughing -

i will have to blog this now

and she, continuing her thought, said:

yeah, before they grow up and fly away
they might move on and become some
other persons blob blog

she said:

this poem is writing itself broom.

and we laughed again, our yahell emotes rolled around our pm window, cackling hysterically.

and Helly...

you are the light that reaches down
into the murk of my own making
and I want you to know how special you are

through the deep times and the silly times.

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