THE low winter sun made it somewhat challenging to identify ducks out on Gartmorn Dam last week, casting their shapes as dark shadows upon the shimmering water.

But the strange almost triangular outline of a nearby duck’s head led to one easy identification – a drake goldeneye.

The light was just good enough to discern the round white patch near the base of the bill, combined with a stunning golden eye that lends the bird its name.

These attractive little ducks arrive in the Wee County in winter from Scandinavia where the bitter cold will now have taken a grip.

Goldeneyes tend to be wary birds and once in flight, their rapidly beating white-panelled wings make the most unusual and distinctive whistling noise.

I was now getting into the swing of things, and scanning the loch further, I could see there were some tufted duck out on the water too.

Like the goldeneye, they are expert divers and can get down to depths of 6ft or more where they will scour the bottom for invertebrates.

Close to the bird hide on the north shore, there is a nice stretch of pond and reedy margin separate from the main part of the loch. Here, a couple of mallard pairs lingered, as well as a lone female teal.

Male ducks tend to get all the plaudits because they are more colourful, but this female teal was a real beauty in her own right with her softly marbled brown plumage.

As I made my way back to the carpark, a female mute swan continually up-ended in the water, enabling her to stretch her long neck to the bed of the loch to forage.

They are one of our most elegant birds, but when it was bottom’s up time for this swan, such serenity all but disappeared, giving her a rather comedic appearance instead.