Ducks are a constant source of comedy. If you want to tell a joke including an animal, a duck is the safest choice, followed closely by the elephant.
Here at The Regent’s Park there’s a strange collection of international ducks on display. There’s a Rosy Billed Pochard, Netta peposaca:
With a head and bill like that it must be a male. Ducks often have pronounced differences in plumage between the sexes. Here it is dabbling beautifully:
There’s a Pochard, Aythya ferina, with its brilliant red eye:
Ducks often have brilliantly coloured eyes. Here’s why:
This Pochard is catching a bit of shut-eye:
But it doesn’t last long:
This male Tufted Duck, Aythya fuligula, is showing its beautiful tuft:
The female is duller:
You can explain the entire theory of evolution by natural selection using ducks alone. Here’s a Hooded Merganser, Lophodytes cucullatus:
How amazing does it look?
There’s also male and female Eider Ducks, Somateria mollissima:
It was at this point that I began looking to see whether their primary wing feathers had been cut. There are plenty of wild ducks flying in to join the permanent display, but these are captive because of wing cutting.
The Northern Pintail, Anas acuta, is one of my favourite ducks. Just look at that incredible plumage:
I prefer them in the wild, although it’s a treat to see them so close; and in the middle of London.
There are between 9 and 33 pairs breeding in the UK.
What’s this exotic creature? It’s a Chiloé Wigeon, Mareca sibilatrix:
Isn’t this the most perfectly poised, elegant duck?
There’s another species with a glorious iridescent head here too. It’s a Falcated Duck, Mareca falcata:
Then I spot a male Smew, Mergus albellus:
We only get 180 or so of them in winter in the UK, but this one has no choice, given its lack of primary wing feathers. It’s a winter visitor from Scandinavia and Russia. What amazing plumage. It’s worth two photographs, don’t you think?
Finally, a Eurasian Wigeon, Mareca penelope, comes into view.
I’ve never seen a duck which looks more like it should be floating in a bath.