I have always been fascinated by the goosanders that spend the winter at Delph Pond in Tullibody.

By nature, goosanders are shy birds, but those on the pond have become habituated to humans and are relatively tame – probably because they get fed by people.

If this is the case, I wonder what scraps of food they devour, for goosanders predominately eat fish and I am unsure whether they would like bread. Furthermore, bread is of little nutritional value and is not recommended for feeding to waterfowl as it can cause dietary problems. I certainly doubt there are enough fish in Delph Pond to support these goosanders.

On my most recent visit, there were several goosanders about, with the sexes evenly split in numbers. This was an interesting observation, because on the nearby River Devon, females predominate. So, perhaps one of the attractions of Delph Pond is that it is a safe sanctuary for males and females to socialise and to court and ultimately mate in the spring.

As well as goosanders, mallards were present in good numbers, and by the boggy margins, moorhens and coots padded on their large flange-toed feet, which are perfectly designed for walking on soft mud. ‘Water hen’ is a long-held, but now rarely used, alternative name for the moorhen, which would seem more appropriate terminology, although the ‘moor’ in moorhen is derived from an old meaning for marsh or mere, rather than an expanse of heathery upland.

Delph Pond is a wonderful place for people to get close to nature and to experience its wild beauty – which is why local Tullibody residents treasure it so much. It is also a pond for all seasons, with newly hatched ducklings and cygnets gracing its waters in spring, and sparkling damsel and dragonflies delivering stunning colour in summer. Throughout the year, tufted ducks and black-headed gulls are regular visitors.

And, as the goosanders show, this is also a pond of conundrums, raising more questions than answers about our intriguing natural world.