I last saw a mandarin drake many years ago on a family holiday in Cornwall, where there was one in a collection somewhere. So when I recently heard that a male mandarin had appeared at Figgate Park, I was keen to get along and see him for myself.
Someone from one of my birdwatching classes had said he'd spent twenty minutes recently wandering round the pond and didn't see the mandarin! I was much luckier, in fact he came right up to me immediately and posed for some photos
shoveler certainly seemed to be, he was hiding in a bush and refused to come out onto the water!
At the other end of the spectrum from the mandarin is the soberly elegant and subtly beautiful gadwall, which was also present on the Figgate Pond today. It wasn't quite so keen to be photographed but you can see him here in this rather poor quality photo - the gadwall is the one on the right, next to a female tufted duck with a female mallard in the background.
There were also several goosanders on the pond - the one in the first photo with a brow head is a female
mistle thrush singing from the top of a tree, the first one of the year.
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