There have been very few nesting reports of hardhead ducks at Lake Wendouree, so today's photo is a rare one.
Unlike black duck, grey teal and wood duck ducklings, young hardheads have no prominent dark stripes on their faces, just a trace of a line behind the eye, not visible on the brightly-lit faces of the ducklings in the photo.
They also have an unexpected coloured tip to the bill.
The hardhead usually makes a nest in dense vegetation such as reeds and rushes not far above water.
Nests (elsewhere - not at Lake Wendouree) have also been known on islands and sometimes more than 20 metres from water.
The usual clutch is nine to 13 eggs. The hardhead does not nest in hollows.
While black ducks and swans will continue nesting into summer and sometimes beyond, most ducklings and cygnets appear before the end of the year.
The recent hardhead brood (sighted on December 29) was significantly later than the first broods of other ducks.
A surprise earlier this week was the sighting of a brood of about five small hardhead ducklings at Paul's Wetland in Wendouree, about the same size as those pictured, and mother and ducklings were all busily diving for food.
The hardhead gets most of its food by diving. Like very small blue-billed ducklings, the youngsters dive within a day or two of hatching.
Musk ducklings, however, are fed by their mother until they are almost equal to her in size.
Nesting of the hardhead is rare anywhere in the Ballarat region. The bird has been uncommon at Lake Wendouree for several months, so a brood of ducklings was unexpected - both there and at Paul's Wetland.
Often known as the white-eyed duck, the hardhead is said to have gained its unusual name from taxidermists, who found the head of this bird difficult to skin.
Another suggestion is simply that hunters found these fast-flying ducks the most difficult to shoot.
"White-eyed duck" is a useful name for the bird's identification, although the white eye is a feature only of males.
The photo shows the brown-eyed, slightly duller-coloured female with her ducklings.
Wattle trees of many sorts are dropping their seeds, providing a source of food for pigeons, parrots and other birds.
Common bronzewings are again taking advantage of the shiny black seeds that have fallen to the ground, and gang-gang cockatoos are feeding on green seeds still in their pods.
The pigeons also do a valuable service feeding on seeds of broom and gorse.
This is a good example of camouflage. J.Z., Mt Clear.
This is a red-lined geometrid moth, very well-camouflaged on top, but whitish with black marks and red lines underneath - quite unlike the upper surface.
Its scientific name is Crypsiphona ocultaria, with the latter part meaning to hide or conceal, a very apt descriptor.
It is said to be a fairly common moth, but it is not commonly seen by an ordinary observer.
This is not surprising with such camouflage, but occasionally it visits lighted windows at night.
Perhaps it is commonly seen by those searching for moths with special lamps.
Another name is red-lined looper.
The looper name relates to the green caterpillar, which is one of many stiff-bodied, slow-moving and well-camouflaged caterpillars known as loopers because of their movement - the tail moves to the head and forms a loop before the head moves forward in another full-length stretch.
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