With the clatter of trolleys and rustle of carrier bags still ringing in me ears, I slipped away from the supermarket gargantuan yesterday afternoon to have a quick look at the drake Mandarin on the lake at the District General Hospital on Town Lane.
I've been meaning to have a butchers at this bird since Chris Fyles' kindly let us know about it some time ago (thanks for the blog info Chris - keep it coming!).
The over-hanging trees and sheltered position of the lake is clearly good 'abo for a Mandarin, and things looked quite promising when I first got there and there was no sign of the bird, until it flew in (with no assistance) high from the north east and pitched down.
Moulting nicely towards adult plumage now, it steamed under the overhanging branches and out of sight, just like a Mandarin should.
No rings, just about fully winged.
Spent the next 20 minutes preening, freezing and cowering whenever it heard a noise or someone walking down the path by the lake.
So far, so Mandarin.
Emerged from cover to swim across the green waters and into an area of overhanging willow, at remarkable speed, its head bobbing back and forth like a Moorhen caught up in an explosion at the Dulux factory.
Then it really let itself down.
Instead of skulking in cover like a "real" Mandarin should, it was up onto the grass and grazing with the manky Mallards at the side of the car park, hardly blinking as folk walked by a few feet away.
Lovely bird though, nice opportunity to get good views of its psychaedelic paint job before it scurried back into cover.
The bird will be stonking in a month or so when moult is complete.
But if he really wants to be taken seriously, he's gonna have to get a whole lot sneakier....and he should cut out throwing the daft shapes too....
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...