Rare encounters: North American Wood Duck spotted in Alexandra Park

NEW wildlife at Alexandra Park in Oldham is settling in well despite being rather far from home.

“If you’ve been to Alexandra Park recently and wondered what the really colourful duck is amongst the mallards, you’ve more than likely seen the spectacular drake North American Wood Duck,” said James Walsh, aka the Mancunian Birder.

James Walsh

“The North American Wood Duck is the new kid on the duck pond. According to the park staff the bird arrived in September.

“It has probably escaped from a zoo or a collection, but there is a slight chance it is a wild bird that has flown across the Atlantic – this species’ natural range is North America, as the name suggests.”

“This bird has a very boisterous, flamboyant, territorial character and is already bossing all the other ducks around. It seems to have taken a real shine to the female mallards but chases off the drakes.

“It’s a beautiful bird and it is attracting wildlife photographers who are putting their best photos on social media such as local Facebook groups. Special thanks to Mark Shuttleworth and David Jackjack for their stunning photos.

Drake North American Wood Duck by David Jackjack
Drake North American Wood Duck and mallard by Mark Shuttleworth

“It’s a bird that is more usually associated with Central Park in New York, USA rather than Alexandra Park, Oldham!

“I’ve been watching these lakes regularly and have recorded some very interesting sightings.

“In November 2020, a female Eurasian Wigeon – a species that winters in huge numbers on the Ribble Estuary and the Dee Estuary – was present on Alexandra Park.

“Tufted Ducks are the superstar birds of the lakes, with numbers peaking in the late winter and early spring and some staying to breed in the summer. The drakes are easily spotted with their black and white plumage, and punky crests!

“Goosanders also visit in the winter, and a drake Gadwall was present in February 2021.

“Alexandra Park, Snipe Clough, Park Bridge and Daisy Nook Country Park are great places to watch birds.”

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