One of the paddocks behind our place was recently cut & baled for hay. Since the bales were picked up, we have been amazed to see hundreds of Paradise Ducks arriving every day to feed. Every so often a large group takes off, & just like a scene from a nature doco they wheel & turn, flashing black & white.  Last night with beautiful light, we decided to creep up as close as we could to take some photos. Alas as the first group flew up, the batteries in my camera died, dammit!

Luckily Geoff had his camera & captured some of the action.

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Looking  up info about the Paradise Ducks, I’ve learnt that we have been wrongly assuming that the male is the black & white bird of the pair. Not so, it’s the female. A pair often forms a long term bond & may mate for life, ( although I remember they said that about white swans, then discovered that they were quite promiscuous!!) They are NZ’s only native Shelduck, which is in fact more goosely than duckish.  They are happy on land & in water, & it’s true that they can nest in trees, as well as long grass & hollow logs, where they lay about 9 eggs on average.

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I was told that they carry their young to the ground on their backs, but I’m not sure about that. At one time these bird numbers were low, as wetlands were drained, but now their numbers have prospered with the clearing of forest into pasture, & the establishing of ponds & dams. Now their numbers need to be controlled.

Known in Maori as Putangitangi, they were a managed food source, being hunted outside of the breeding season, when they were moulting & couldn’t fly.