Lucky ducks: feathered residents not in firing line

Ducks in residence on the Idaburn Dam are preventing ice from freezing and chances of a bonspiel...
Ducks in residence on the Idaburn Dam are preventing ice from freezing and chances of a bonspiel going ahead are slim. Photo by Ken Gillespie.
Idaburn Dam duck shooters have not set their sights on Ken Gillespie - yet.

On Thursday, the Oturehua farmer jokingly blamed the lack of ice on the dam, which was preventing a bonspiel from being called, on duck shooters not doing their job properly.

Ducks still living on the dam were keeping the water circulating, meaning it could not freeze, he said.

Yesterday, Mr Gillespie, who is also a member of the Rough Ridge Curling Club, said there had not been any backlash yet.

''Everyone will just give me cheek. It will cost me at the Lions next month.

''I had Paddy Ford, who used to teach in Oturehua, send me a text saying: `Promise to shoot better next year Ken'. He was having a bit of a wind-up.''

Overnight on Thursday, Oturehua experienced a 9deg frost, which had helped the freezing of the Idaburn, but the ducks were still in residence.

What could be done to get rid of them?''You can get out there and have a serious conversation with them and they will fly away, but as soon as you leave, they will come back,'' Mr Gillespie said.

Although the duck-shooting season would end on July 27, he did not ''stir them up'' at this time of year, he said.

Among the ducks and black swans on the dam, which were in open shooting season, there were also Australian coots, which were protected.

While Mr Gillespie would not be ''blowing up those ducks'', Fish and Game New Zealand were yesterday recommending hunters make the most of the last week of the season. Bird numbers were still ''good'' but widely distributed, it said.

Back in the Ida Valley, Mr Gillespie said there was a creek over the bank from the dam but the ducks could not be convinced to take up residence there - paddling upstream was too much work for them.

''And the food is nowhere near as good as it is in the dam.''

The ducks made a conscious effort to keep areas of water ice-free, he said. There had been a dam on his old farm and the ducks there would actively flap to keep the ice from forming.

As for curling, if there was another 9deg frost last night, it would just about cover the dam in ice, Mr Gillespie said.

From there, it would be about four days before anyone could get on to the ice and even more for it to be suitable for curling.

''You can skate on one inch of ice ... but the depth needed for curling is about four inches of good clear black ice. Black ice is when you can see the fish swimming around underneath.''

Any moisture, such as rain or snow, prevented black ice from forming and created ''snow ice'', which was not as strong, he said.

He did think it was getting too late for a bonspiel but a good spell of frosts could change that.

''If you get minus 15, you can form ice pretty quick,'' he said.


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