Duck gives lake its exotic approval

Dapper duck

Mandarin Duck

The lake at Crow Nest Park in Dewsbury has been graced with a visit from a rather dapper duck.  The stunningly plumed Mandarin duck been spotted swimming alongside the park’s Mallards and is proving quite a hit with the visitors.

The male Mandarin duck has spectacularly ornate plumage with orange, blue, white and buff feathers.  He also has long orange feathers on the side of his face and striking orange ‘sails’ on his back.

Mandarin ducks introduced to the UK from China early in the twentieth century have escaped or been released and can be seen in various parts of the country, though not typically around here.

Facts about Mandarin Ducks

  1. According to traditional Chinese culture, Mandarin ducks are believed to be lifelong couples, unlike other species of duck, so they are regarded as a symbol of marital affection and faithfulness.The Crow Nest Park visitor is currently on his own, so he may just be passing through on the lookout for a mate.
  2. Interestingly female Mandarin ducks nest in holes in trees, where they look after the ducklings in the nest for a while after hatching and then invite them to launch themselves into mid-air before leading them off to the nearest water.
  3. Unlike some other introduced species, the Mandarin duck don’t seem to cause any problems for native ducks so he is more than welcomed by the park staff and Friends of group.

Advice for visitors

If you fancy a trip to the park to feed the ducks – please don’t throw in too much bread.

Denis Ripley, Chair of the Friends of Crow Nest Park has given us the following advice:

 “It’s a lovely way to encourage young children to engage with nature, but, there can be problems if people throw too much bread to the ducks.  Rotting bread encourages poisonous bacteria and algae to form, as well as encouraging rats, which bring disease.   Too much white bread can also be unhealthy for ducks.  So my advice would be, please come and feed the ducks, but, don’t throw whole slices, which simply rot on the surface, and if the ducks aren’t eating the crumbs you are throwing, then please stop and come and feed them another time.”

“Think about bringing different treats for them.  For example wheat, barley or other grains, uncooked oats, birdseed, grapes (cut in half) and defrosted peas (no need to cook).  Whatever you bring, please don’t leave uneaten food in the water or on the side of the Lake.  Now the Lake has been refurbished, we all need to take responsibility to keep it clean.”

Visit the canal & river trust website for more advice on feeding ducks.

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