Mr and Mrs


This pair of Mandarin ducks paused and posed attractively when I was at Martin Mere Wetlands Trust last week. Hadn’t seen a female Mandarin duck before but I thought she was quite beautiful in her soft shades of taupe and grey.

The male’s plumage is full on glitzy showbiz stuff – stunning brilliant colours with sticky-up bits on his wings, a large tangerine ruff (or side whiskers?) and iridescent feathers with a purple and green sheen. Mr Mandarin reminds me of loudly-dressed exuberant pop stars, like Mick Jagger, strutting his stuff, or Boy George, Prince or Jimi Hendrix. They all knew how to get attention.

Mrs Mandarin is far more subtle; she doesn’t need to make a big flashy show as her essence glows from within. There’s a calm, auhoritative confidence at work and she reminds me of actors Meryl Streep or Helen Mirren.

That, however, is just my fanciful imagination at work. Mandarin ducks are originally from eastern Asia, but a feral population was established in Britain in the last century and they seem to be here to stay.

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