Mandarins

Morning folks,

What’s this? Two updates in less than 12 years!? I know, shocking, but hopefully it’ll continue (on a roughly weekly basis).

This week I want to chat about ducks. Interestingly, “duck” isn’t a technical term. Like “fish”, “duck” is just a term which groups a bunch of organisms with similar attributes. In this case, a duck is just a bird which generally has webbed feet, a broad beak, and tends to swim… Useful.

Anyway, on one of my recent wanders, I came across this beauty.

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He’s a Mandarin duck (and a very handsome one at that). Mandarin ducks aren’t native to the UK. They were originally brought from China as pets (you can see why), and as is often the case, they then escaped and bred in the wild, though some flocks are still maintained by collectors.

I thought Mandarin ducks were extremely rare in the UK, having only seen a single male up at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust’s Washington Wetland Centre (an excellent tongue twister) before now. However according to the RSPB’s website, there are actually 2300 breeding pairs in the UK (mostly in the south it seems). Lo and behold, a moment longer watching this individual revealed a whole flock of them, both male (snazzy) and female (not so snazzy), alongside a Mallard who may be trying to fake it as a Mandarin.

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Even after living in Sheffield for 4 years it still manages to throw out a few surprises. While I’ve seen kingfishers, paragrine falcons, owls, and an assortment of other interesting birds during my time here, a random wander leads to another excellent find, showing that it’s well worth getting out and about in your local area, because you never quite know what you’ll stumble across.

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