Friday, 24 July 2009

...the duck of springe

If you've seen a duck in a tree lately, fear not, for this auspicious sighting means that springe is not too far away.

The Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata) is a handsome, charismatic 'goose-like' duck that can be found near most inland water bodies across the country. These comic, web-footed little bastards are unique among ducks in their habit of nesting in trees. And they get in the mood relatively early too, around mid July, which explains why lately I've been hearing the tell-tale Brrrruuyykk of a horny wood duck in a tree.

Wood Ducks in the trees are a sign of Muyan (early spring) in the seasonal calendar observed by the Wurundjeri people, the original inhabitants of the Lower Yarra Region where I am priveleged to work. The Wurundjeri would look for signs like wood ducks shagging to notify them of changes in the seasons and therefore, where to find the best food, shelter, etc. The Wurundjeri have six seasons in a year, which in my opinion is a more accurate system for this part of the world than our four season European import.

Bullarto n'yoweenth - High Summer (November-mid January)
Creeks begin to dry up, fish move upstream, lizards and snakes active.

Wygabil-ny-ewin - Late Summer (mid Jan-mid March)
Eels move downstream, Autumn rains arrive, Yellow-box and Stringybark gum trees flower, fires lit.

Berrip - Early Winter (mid March-May)
Possums mating, many moths active, creeks flow again, fungi grow, kangaroos feed on new growth after fires.

Perrin - Deep Winter (May-mid July)
Cold, short days, river flats flooded, leaves on water plants turn brown though small tuberous herbs grow.

Muyan - Pre-spring (mid July- mid August)
Wattles begin to flower, morning frogs are heard, wood ducks start nesting, birds flocking before migration, other migrant birds arrive.

Pareip - True Spring (mid August-November)
Orchids and lilies flowering, water plants put on green leaves, joeys leave the pouch, birds breeding, snakes and lizards becoming active, River flats in flood from snow-melt.

Lovely isn't it. Makes me want to go campinge.


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At 24 July 2009 at 10:11 , Blogger Kath Lockett said...

Ah, the sights and sounds of shagging tree ducks - brings out the springtime romantics in us all!

At 24 July 2009 at 14:53 , Blogger Baino said...

Don't get me started on these little poolside shitty garpers who splash at night and 'muwaaarp' all day because they think it's a pick up joint for single quakkers! At least they'll be gone soon! Having said that I have never seen a duck nest in a tree!

At 24 July 2009 at 16:49 , Blogger The Man at the Pub said...

KL-There's lurve in the air, or at least the trees.

Baino-"poolside shitty garpers"? I love it. Sounds like your a fan of duck.... the braised in plum sauce variety.

At 25 July 2009 at 17:55 , Blogger Lorna Lilo said...

And don't forget - Pissedas Afart, the Melbourne season for the native heeled, sometimes feathered trollop which indicates the first Tuesday in November.

At 26 July 2009 at 21:57 , Blogger Lad Litter said...

Love the six seasons. Tee-hee at Lorna's comment - Flemington Racecourse is at the and of my street. My calendar has only two seasons though: Footy season and cricket season.


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