DELPH POND in Tullibody never disappoints, and on a visit last week, there was an abundance of ducks bobbing out on the water, bringing colour and vibrancy to a grey, sleet-swirled winter's day.

I always find the goosanders that haunt Delph Pond at this time of year especially fascinating, for they are normally wary birds, but here they have become habituated to people.

I don't imagine there are enough fish to sustain these goosanders in the relatively small area of the pond, and as such, they have taken to accepting food thrown into the water by people – a most unusual piece of behaviour for a fish-eating bird.

There were many mallards out on the water, up-ending in the shallows for food. There is a tendency to overlook mallards because they are so common.

However, this is a shame, for mallards are handsome ducks and I always give them the time of day. Mallards occur on all kinds of water bodies, including rivers, small ponds, and our largest lochs.

They are adaptable and can nest in a wide variety of locations, including in trees and buildings, as well as on the ground.

They also have a long breeding season compared to other ducks and may lay eggs as early as February.

Indeed, one reader got in touch with me the other week, certain that he had just seen mallard ducklings on the River Devon.

The other star attraction out on Delph Pond was a small group of tufted ducks. They are engaging little ducks, the drakes sporting punk-style crested 'haircuts', while the brown plumaged females exhibit an under-stated elegance, which I find compelling.

Tufted ducks are often active by night. Thomas Coward, the renowned 20th century ornithologist, noted: "The tufted's habits are fairly regular; as a rule, most of the day is spent idly on the water, the birds slumbering with the blue bill tucked into the black back, floating lightly, like small black and white buoys swinging in the wind".

Once darkness falls, these enchanting little ducks stir into action, diving in the shallows for aquatic weeds and invertebrates, their black and white bodies blending seamlessly with the moon dappled water.