Our waterways ponds and lakes play host to a variety of duck species both native and introduced, from the ubiquitous mallard to a range of exotic looking types.

Indeed, the mallard is so familiar that perhaps we don't fully appreciate just how handsome the drake is, with his glossy bottle green head and colourful plumage. The female is much duller but out of necessity as she needs to be camouflaged when nesting.

Another common resident is the handsome tufted duck , the black and white male contrasting with the dull brown female. Other species include the pintail; red-crested pochard; shoveller; teal (our smallest species); gadwall; and wigeon, to name but a few and most of the latter can best be seen at different times of the year at the wonderful London Wetland Centre at Barnes.

One introduced species, the mandarin, is a stunning individual. The plumage of the male displays a striking flamboyance with green, purple, orange-brown and unique wing feathers which form a pair of 'sails' on his back.

His mate is more subdued but still very attractive . The image shows a pair together at the start of the breeding season. It is estimated that there are now more mandarins in Britain then in their native homeland of Japan Then there is the Egyptian goose. However, the title is a bit of a misnomer as although it resembles a goose, it is in fact a large duck, related to the ruddy shelduck.