Phil Alexander and I had a very pleasant surprise on Sunday when we opened our ringing accounts for 2011 at the Vale Marais. We were catching and colour ringing a few Common Moorhens for my long-term study, but amongst the birds caught were two Mandarin Ducks. This was a pair of full-winged (un-ringed) birds, and after release they flew strongly around the marsh several times before heading off. Checking with Ruth O’Rorke these are not collection birds. In fact they had been seen at the Vale Marais only the day before we caught them.
It is of course impossible to know the origins of these ducks, but I think this is as good a record as one is likely to get of Mandarin Duck in Guernsey. Whether they originated in France, England or perhaps Jersey is a matter for pure speculation.
Way back in the early 1980s there was a pair of pinioned Mandarins in the wildfowl collection at the Vale Marais. These birds bred and Maurice O’Rorke then placed the eggs in an incubator. The eggs duly hatched and he hand raised nine chicks. I ringed them before release onto the lake. None of the juvenile birds remained on the lake…and in the months that followed three were shot abroad – one near Bristol, Avon, and one in Keynsham, Hampshire, England and the other in the far south of France! These birds can clearly get around!!