Something today from the 'spring' archives. Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata) is an introduced alien for the Far East and was first released in Britain in the 18th century but didn't really prosper until around the 1930's when it probably first bred in the wild.
When the male displays he raises his orange 'sails', extends his colourful crest then dips his bill in the water before stretching his head and passing it back behind his 'sails' and then produces an excited breathy whistle....what female could ignore that?
The female is much drabber looking with her white spectacles and a narrow line curving back towards the nape (not unlike her cousin the Wood Duck which has a darker head with a thicker white eye-ring which stretches into a shorter triangular shape). It nests in holes of trees, often Oaks, up to 15 metres above the ground and it is not uncommon for me to find them chilling out way above my head in woodland surrounding a local pond where they regularly breed each year.
During the breeding season this duck is very, very secretive and even when the youngsters take to water the female is extremely protective and will steer them into cover at the slightest disturbance. I have only seen one female with four charges this year and she wouldn't let me take their photos so below is an image from 2009.
A brood of eight is not uncommon but rare for half of these to reach beyond juvenile status!
Unlike some alien introductions the Mandarin is a real charmer........FAB.