A. Grebes and Wood Ducks at Violet Town Vic

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: A. Grebes and Wood Ducks at Violet Town Vic
From: Barry McLean <>
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 04 20:44:44 +1100
Hi All,

Just a couple of observations of bird behaviour which are new to me but which 
may be well known.

On the top dam on our property this year we have had Australasian Grebes 
nesting for the first time since we moved in in Jan 2002.  The first attempt 
was abandoned for unknown reasons ( maybe predation by raptors or a tortise as 
the nest was damaged?), at about the time I guessed that young might appear.  
It was attached to a float holding the water pipe which takes water to our 
garden.  The second attempt, floating attached to water weeds, had one egg on 
Sunday and presumably more by now.

Also at the dam is this year's family of Wood Duck - I witnessd last year's 
young all taken by a pair of foxes when they were about a week or two old. This 
year the group of young has diminished from 6 or 8 down to 2 fairly quickly and 
yesterday only one, nearly full size but a while off flying, remained.

Because of this activity I have been visiting the site at least daily and have 
almost trodden on the family group of ducks on several occasions - even when I 
was within  2 or 3 metres they did not move; each time I veered off and they 
remained in position.  Before this I was not aware that Wood Duck 'froze' 
although I have often seen 'broken wing' diversions performed.  I also noticed 
that they did not freeze in ducklike positions but rather in  contorted shapes 
- perhaps like pieces of roots or fallen branches.

On one occcasion (29 Nov) when the grebes were building their second nest the 
ducks were near the dam when I approached and took to the water rather than 
freezing. In so doing they inadvertently approached the partially completed 
nest.  The two grebe were following and one dived when it was about 3m from the 
group of 4 ducks; three or four seconds later the adult ducks were obviously 
being attacked (presumably their feet were being bitten) and they left the 
water for a short while.  I watched for about 30 minutes as the duck group were 
repeatedly driven out of the dam by these submarine attackers.  The last couple 
of times both ducks and ducklings were attacked but prior to that only the 
adults appeared to be.


Update!  Just back from checking the dam after two days of occasional 
thunderstorms and a total of about 25mm rain.  No ducks seen but the grebes' 
second  nest has been abandoned and they have almost completed a third!  This 
one is in shallow water close to the bank and attached to a patch of a strong, 
erect grass growing from the bottom. Nest one has now let go of the float and 
disappeared below the surface, nest two is opened up (egg/s gone) and is 
sinking, nest three won't sink but foxes could easily walk out to it!  It may 
be that we might never see any young.

Must send this now before it turns into a book!  Sorry


         Barry & Roberta McLean
         03 57981213
         0418 584433
         PO Box 66
         Violet Town  Vic  3669
         36° 40' 3"   145° 43' 11"

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