Monday, November 1, 2010

Never count your ducklings until you have photo evidence

A brood of 11 whio ducklings had been spotted on a tributary of the Retaruke river this weekend, local landowners have been watching the brood and had a little trouble counting them as they darted in and out of the bubbling stream.

At first glance it was thought that there were only 7 ducklings, but further investigations revealed at least 11 with a clearer photo taken later showing a whopping brood of 12.

This is the time of year that broods are hatching and being introduced to the great outdoors. Born to surf the rapids these ducklings will likely spend the next 8 to 10 weeks in training with their very protective parents gaining survival skills that will see them successfully fledge some time in January.

‘The average number of ducklings in a brood is anything between four and nine. To get a brood of 11 or more is just fantastic” say’s Jim Campbell, DOC Biodiversity Programme Manager
“The test will be seeing how many actually fledge”

The ducklings will go through a gauntlet of dangerous and life threatening events over the next 70 days. Stoats, ferrets, weasels, cats & dogs will be looking to pluck off the weary, floods and freshes will claim a few, and limited food sources and general habitat issues will make reaching the goal of adulthood a difficult task.

Landowners in the area help to protect the whio populations from pests through trapping regimes supported by Kia Wharite. This will hopefully increase the survival rate of the ducklings and in turn the overall whio population.


Photos courtesy of Louisa Frayne

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