For some reason I was a bit sniffy about these non-native escapees when I was younger, but now I’m really pleased to see them on the Wharfe. The male’s plumage is nothing short of spectacular – he looks like he originates from some exotic, distant land (actually the Far East) – and it seems incongruous for such a shy bird. The female, as is so often the case, has the practical colours of the partner who has to sit on the nest. Having said that, Mandarins are also unusual ducks in that they nest in holes up in trees. Not long after they have hatched, the mother flies down to the water and encourages the young to jump down and join her and the protective father. A female was spotted the other day in Otley, on the river, with ELEVEN ducklings! In China and Japan Mandarins are seen as a symbol of lifelong fidelity, and in Korea carved wooden Mandarins are often given as a wedding present.