News, Events and Culture

Esplanade ducks ready for release

Thursday February 2 2012

The progeny from Palmerston North’s amorous brown teal (pateke) ducks at the Victoria Esplanade will be released into a controlled location at Cape Kidnappers in Hawke's Bay tomorrow afternoon.

A clutch of seven male and female brown teal will be released by the Pateke Recovery Captive Breeding Group together with about 20 other brown teal into a large predator fenced area. The Cape Kidnappers location has lots of ponds and gullies with the addition of a sand dune wetland and the group hopes it will support a population of more than 100 birds.

Accompanying the group will be Aviary Keeper, Peter Russell, who's been delighted with the reproductive ability of two young brown teal at the Esplanade that have produced 25 ducklings in the last 15 months.

The last clutch were sent to Peacock Springs near Christchurch for disease screening and preparation for release and they will arrive, complete with transmitters attached, at Napier airport tomorrow and be flown to the controlled location for release.

Peter Russell is delighted with the outcome and is hoping that the male and female brown teal at the Esplanade aren't "down in the mouth" and will start further family planning in the near future.

Brown teal were once very prolific in New Zealand but, with the introduction of predators, the drainage of over 90 percent of wetland and the felling of native forest, their numbers have dwindled to just over a thousand.

They enjoy long life - some can live up to 20 years of age so Peter believes this pair could produce several hundred ducklings and, when you add the children and grandchildren, that's quite a dynasty.

The pateke are a small brown duck with a distinctive whitish narrow ring around each eye with their head, face and throat a mottled brown. The males colour up during the breeding season and develop a chestnut coloured breast, a greenish coloured head and display a mallard-like, white stripe on each side of their flank which dad at the Esplanade seems to maintain permanently.