On Sunday Mab came back from a walk in Epping Forest full of excitement.
“The Mandarin Ducks are back”, she said. Oddly enough I was just about to take a Chinese crispy duck out of the oven, so I put off my own photo expedition until yesterday.
I got to the pond at around 2.15 and there were loads of Mandarin Ducks on the islands. For what is essentially an escaped ornamental duck they proved to be quite camera shy, so these shots were taken at extreme range.
The Mandarin Duck is originally from China and the east of Russia, where local populations are under threat. In the UK there is thought to be a breeding population of around 7,000 birds, which means that there are more Mandarins here than there are in the whole of east Asia. Many people argue that they should be culled, but I would hazard that hybridising with domestic Aylesbury Ducks is a greater threat to our native species and they are just so darn pretty.