Saturday, 11 May 2013

Stunner!

Little did we realise as we set out for a walk this morning, that we would encounter one of the most stunning birds we have ever seen in these parts.  To start with, the weather was not looking very promising.  Following the warmth of last weekend, this one has turned out to be cold, windy and wet, but as we walked around Straw's Bridge lake, we found this magnificent creature...
A Male Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata) in full colour and proud of it.
Originally from East Asia (as the name would suggest), these glorious little ducks have become naturalised all over the world, wherever they have escaped from private collections and bird reserves.
Sadly, in their homelands, they have become very scarce through wholesale capturing and exporting of wild birds as well as habitat destruction.  It's thought their numbers may have dropped to below 1000 pairs on Mainland Asia, although still doing a bit better on Japan.
This is a tree-nesting duck, making its home in cavities of old tree trunks, close to water and as is so often the case, the female is rather more drably attired.  This brightly coloured individual male bird was certainly looking at his best, despite the gloomy conditions and he proved to be the best thing we came across on our morning perambulations today.
What a stunner!
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