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MANDARIN DUCKS : Aix galericulata

Where to see them : There are some on the River Leven. 

When visiting some of West Dunbartonshire's waterways such as the Leven, you may be surprised to find ducks that look out of place, somewhat foreign, yet highly colourful and attractive. These may well be mandarin ducks. Although not common in Scotland, we have a few around here. The male duck has the most elaborate and ornate plumage with distinctive long orange feathers on the side of the face, orange 'sails' on the back, and pale orange flanks.The female is considered dull by comparison, but is nevertheless very elegant with a grey head and white stripe behind the eye, brown back and mottled flanks.

They were introduced to the UK from China and have become established following escapes from captivity. They tend to take cover under overhanging trees or built up edges, but you may well see them sitting on the river or canal bank in groups enjoying the morning sun.

The male is the most noticeable, but the female is quietly elegant.

So are these a different pair or the same ducks with their plumage a little altered by posture? They seem to have some subtle differences. Can you spot them?

By mid-May we see up to 5 drakes in this group that frequent the upper Leven, but no hens. Perhaps the hens are on nests somewhere out of sight.

But then we notice that there is a hen amomgst this group. Not laying this year?

RSPB : https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/mallard/breeding/

SCOTTISH WILDLIFE TRUST : https://scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/2020/03/the-secret-life-of-mallard-ducks/

THE WILDLIFE TRUSTS : A good reference to identify dabbling ducks : https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife/how-identify/how-identify-dabbling-ducks

A good reference to identify diving ducks : https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife/how-identify/how-identify-diving-ducks


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