Rare Mandarin ducks spotted at reservoir

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A species of duck from East Asia, rarely seen on British waters, was spotted at Mapperly Reservoir on New Year’s Eve.

The two male Mandarin drakes were spotted by keen photographer Dave Cook, 64, from West Hallam.

Mr Cook, who volunteers for Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, told the ‘Tiser: “On New Year’s Eve morning I went down to the reservoir and the water was frozen. I had taken some wheat down to feed the ducks and saw them on the bank. I went back in the afternoon and they were in the water. The next day they were gone. I took my binoculars but couldn’t see them.”

This is not the first time Mr Cook has been lucky enough to spot a Mandarin, he saw one about two years ago at Calke Abbey.

Nick Brown from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust said: “A native of China, Japan and E. Russia, the mandarin is an escapee from collections in the UK and has been at large in the countryside since about the 1950s.

“The first Derbyshire record was in 1963 with a marked increase in reports in the 1980s. Mandarin duck are now quite widespread in the county but never common or that easy to see, preferring to hide in bankside vegetation or under overhanging trees. Nesting has been reported since 1986.

“It occurs on wooded pools in winter, sometimes in small flocks - and in pairs along small rivers and streams in summer when it is breeding. It nests in holes in trees, usually on river banks or close by.”

Its UK numbers are estimated at 2,300 breeding pairs and a wintering population of about 7000.