Photographs by Frank

3 April 2019

Common Mergansers

Filed under: Birds,Early Spring,Monadnock Region,Wildlife — Frank @ 10:30 PM


Despite the inch of snow we got last night, spring is coming slowly to our neck of the woods. The new snow was gone by 10 AM. One sign that spring is nigh. Additionally, the local lakes and ponds are starting to show some open water and the birds are beginning to return. In the past week or so, we have been hearing sparse bird songs in the woods and a few waterfowl have appeared.

Late this morning Joan called me from Memorial Park (where she was doing some spring cleaning of the flower beds) . The news was that there was a pair of common mergansers on the Mill Pond. Of course, I dropped what I was doing, broke out Big Bertha for the first time in some months and headed downtown.

In addition to the mergansers there was a pair of geese present. The midday light was high and harsh. Terrible, especially, for photographing a black and white bird. I knew that “keepers” were unlikely but I spent an hour or so watching and photographing just for practice before heading home.

A few hours later, I returned to town to run some errands and stopped by the pond again to see if the birds were still around; both the geese and the mergansers were still there. Although the sun was still pretty high, the light was a bit better as there were some scattered clouds. I spent another hour or so photographing the mergansers.

Catching a merganser with prey on the surface was a rare treat. Generally, as with most diving birds, mergansers swallow their the prey while under water. One sees them with prey only when they are having difficulty in getting the prey down their gullet, as with the fairly large fish here.

Eventually, the wind kicked up and blew my hat into the pond. I got both feet wet retrieving the hat (just before it sank out of sight). and spooked the birds in doing so. I took this as sign to head home.

All of these photos are from the second session. They are more heavily cropped (one third to one half of the full frame) than I would like but mergansers are very wary birds.

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Common Merganser Pair #1
Common Merganser Pair #1
Common Merganser Pair #2
Common Merganser Pair #2
Common Merganser Pair Resting
Common Merganser Pair Resting
Female Common Merganser Hunting
Female Common Merganser Hunting
Female Common Merganser with Prey #1
Female Common Merganser with Prey #1
Female Common Merganser with Prey #2
Female Common Merganser with Prey #2
Common Merganser Pair Cruising
Common Merganser Pair Cruising

1 Comment

  1. Hey, these are pretty good – Big Bertha performed well. A litle post-processing with shadows, etc. will bring up some detail in these critters.

    i am disappointed that the floating hat did not make this series. . .

    Comment by Joe Kennedy — 4 April 2019 @ 7:57 AM

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