As a child in London, I liked going to Victoria Park to look at the ducks. I wasn't so keen on feeding them but I enjoyed identifying the different species*. And there were many. Although, now I think about it, there might have only been mallard and tufted ducks but in my memory there were also widgeon and pochard and teal. Oh wait. I'm probably confusing it with the Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge.
There's something about ducks. They always look as if they've just been dry-cleaned or polished and left out in the sun to dry. Even though they spend their days with their heads in muddy water and their bums in the air, they remain gleaming.
Despite their laconic charm, Australian ducks are every bit as glossy and neat as their northern counterparts. None more than wood ducks (Chenonetta jubata), which are not only glossy and neat but dapper as well.
Wood ducks are also called maned ducks because the male sports a luxurious growth of long feathers on the nape of his neck. These birds are grazers, nipping at grass and other low vegetation with their small—but perfectly formed—beaks. They are more reticent toward humans than other ducks. Sensibly cautious. But this stand-offish behaviour is part of the wood duck package.
I photographed this group on the banks of the Maribyrnong River in Essendon. They were only pretending to be nonchalant.
*This sort of thing starts young, you know.