Along The Track: Duck Season

Warning: This blog contains details and images that may cause distress to some readers.
I see that just about every night on the tv news, and I’m not sure what you are expected to do. Change channels, turn tv off. Close your eyes?

When I was a little kid, I remember a Loony Tunes cartoon of Elmer Fudd, the duckhunter, and Daffy Duck eluding him. The hapless Elemer never seemed to be able to take home a duck dinner.
Currently our Victorian Government seem to be in the same sort of dilemna about banning Duck Season 2023.

In the meantime, down at the the Western Treatment Plant, a White-bellied Sea Eagle is not the least preturbed by a possible closure of duck season.

Thanks to the headsup of its likely presence by my Flickrmate Don, and a couple of other birdos, we were planning to make a trip to WTP to see what, well, what we could see.

The family were coming for Australia Day, so we were planning to go the following day, but, best laid plans as Robbie Burns would write, and family decided that to come the day after Aussie-Day-Maaate.
How Un-Australian is that! I wonder if they disappeared as happens in the Sam Keckovic Lamb tv ad.

So rearranging our schedule we headed for the Treatment Plant. I’m not a great fan of going there on public holidays and weekends. Once the plant was visited by keen birders who took time to see and id as many birds as possible, and it was very laid back and tranquil.

These days it seems to be photographers who hurry from one end of the plant to the other to get just that one shot. Sometimes its seems to resemble a badly run motorcrosse event. And I’ve photographed a goodly number of motorcrosse events, and participated in a few historic rally runs so have a vague idea about proceedings.

So weekends are not my fav time in the plant.

Rant over, back to Sea Eagles. Well, one in particular.

The smart money seemed to suggest it would be on Lake Borrie, that’s where it was the day before. Every heard that advice. “Oh, yes, I saw it just there, yesterday.”

We parked conveniently about mid-way along the road and started to scan. Nothing in close. Of course not, did you really expect it?

Then EE made a gesture, way out in the middle of the lake. A white spec, that could have been a refigerator as far as normal eye sight would know. Through the binos, it was indeed a White-bellied Sea Eagle, perched high on a tree with great views of the menu (eer. ducks) all around.

It sat. We despaired at getting a sharp image at that distance and with the sun rising, heat-haze began to make it presence felt.
Then the bird jumped, went to the deck and moved about 300m up the lake. Just about every duck in that direction took to the air and flew the opposite way. Better to fly first and ask where later on.
Still too far out, but, just that little bit closer. Another long sit, and as soon as I turned away, it dropped down on to a log at water level.
Missed that.
Another long wait. But the bird kept turning its head to the left, and it had obviously locked on to something. More waiting.

Then, unfurling the wings it took off, quite leisurely it seemed, almost stealth mode.
And while I didn’t really see it though the viewfinder, somewhere out there a Chestnut Teal had nodded off to sleep.
Bad career move.
There was no second chance. The eagle swiftly despatched the duck, and sat on the waterline with it for a good 15 minutes, then scooping up its prize flew down the lake to a suitable dining table.

Event Log

When a Sea Eagle flys East, the wise among the ducks fly West
Swinging In to land
Locked for landing
Viewing the Menu from the best position in town
After a very long wait, it dropped down on to a waterline log for a drink
It kept looking to the left, obviously some opportunity had presented itself
Like all raptors there is no wasted energy, the time to move has to be just right.
Time to recover
Now to relocate to a more suitable dining table
A handy perch
cenare all’aria aperta

13 thoughts on “Along The Track: Duck Season

  1. A brilliant series of images, David! Great that you got to see it, I just haven’t had a chance.
    Yes, the plant gets very busy at times and some of the crowd make life difficult, as you say – gotta rush to get ‘the shot’ before heading to somewhere else chasing another hot tip.
    As to watching the news, I don’t any more. Too much time spent in news rooms. And I don’t seem to miss any news I need to know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh, perhaps I just reminisce about the old days 🙂 It is just a noticable difference in the amount of traffic that can be in the plant on any one day. Communal birding just doesn’t do it for me. I’m more your chat and natter over a cuppa somewhere
      It is impossible to predict where the Eagle will be on the day, and most days we come back blank.


  2. A Wonderful series David, following the eagles meal time. It is interesting how it has its drink before the meal, which is good digestive protocol. You captured well each stage of the process. At first I thought your post might be about human duck hunters, as they still do it down south, but it became clearer as you explained. This would be our most common raptor here near the coast, but mainly on country town beaches.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are only a couple of pairs in our area. Sometimes with a juvenile. We could spend weeks at the plant and never see one. (At the moment we are more likely to catch a glimpse of a Brolga than a Sea Eagle) My dream would be to come to the NSW coast and work with the Brahminy Kites, such gorgeous rich coloured birds, but alas I think those days are past me now.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful… truly wonderful series. The teal doesn’t seem to be struggling and I’ve seen that before, I wonder if that’s shock. Amazing series.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the Background story, and (of course) thanks for the absolutely amazing photo story. The Sea Eagle is a magnificent (and very photogenic) bird, and The Kill appears to have been quick; the Victor didn’t play with its catch like a cat would…! Thanks for sharing this experience with us…!


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