My presence at Big Swamp in Bunbury is usually announced to the wildlife by the screeching warnings of the swamp hens. This visit I did not see or hear any.
I was enjoying the quiet when I heard the distinctive noise made by the musk duck. To me it sounds like a coin dropping in water from a height. Kerplonk! The ‘whistle’ is intermittent as the duck moves over the water but on this occasion, it had a frequency I had not heard before, so I walked faster towards the water.
I’ve found the musk duck ignores my presence whether I’m standing by the water’s edge or on the boardwalk. It goes about its business. As it did this time.At first the mother duck swam serenely past him with ducklings in tow.He watched them glide by and drew attention, the sound a mere burble that made ripples around him, saying “I’m here”.She ignored him. Then his body language changed as he exposed more and more of his chin lobe and moved faster, with a speed that took me by surprise.He followed the female duck drawing closer, becoming increasingly relentless in his pursuit.I thought the ducklings looked afraid as they moved towards their mother. She stopped and studied the moment.Then she intervened, putting herself between the male and her ducklings. She engaged in a dance with him this way as they glided past me, in a back and forth.He chased her repeatedly, the ripples around him becoming wider.She ignored him. He arched his body into a bow, chin lobe prominent and brush tail stiffened in a final still moment.Then he exploded. The water erupted around him. In one desperate moment, he put on his best show. She did what ducks do best. With ducklings in tow, she paddled on, unimpressed.
I nearly clapped bravo. But, I couldn’t tell you for whom, because I don’t really know.
Until next time
a dawn bird