Spring is of course a time for couples, and a particularly striking pair of Tufted Ducks were slowly drifting along the river in Wainfleet, Lincolnshire, while I walked there this summer.
Tufted Ducks are so called because the male has a tuft of feathers at the back of the head, which can clearly be seen in my photograph (in some lights these long feathers have an almost purple sheen). The simple, stark black and white of the male really makes it stand out from the crowd, along with its conspicuous golden yellow eye. In flight, the male also has a white bar beneath its wing, which is very noticeable.
The female, almost inevitably, is a more reserved and uniform dark brown.
WILD CARD: In Spring the pair may be inseparable, but as soon as the breeding season is over the males will start flocking together, only joined by females later. These birds can form large flocks in winter.