We’ve had over a dozen hooded mergansers in the Wetlands for the past week or so. Monday and Tuesday nights (11/17 & 11/18) were cold enough to freeze over the water. There was one merganser on the pond Wednesday morning.
The lone merg swam back and forth in a small open spot of water nervously looking about, presumably, for an escape route should she need it. The bird was fairly close to the Wetlands Overlook and I was making her nervous. They like to keep their distance, and they like to have a way to quickly get away from trouble if necessary. The ice was restricting her movements.
I don’t know if the bird spent the night in the Wetlands or dropped in during the morning. There were no other ducks, herons, or other water birds in the area. One other thing, these birds require a running start to take flight, they need to run along the water’s surface to become airborne.
Luckily, the sun was shining down on the water and the ice, thin to begin with, was liquifying quickly. By noon, half the pond was open, a kingfisher dropped in to try her luck at catching fish, and all seemed well.
At closing time, the pond was completely open and the kingfisher was the only bird in sight. Our merganser flew off to find company.
Greg Dodge is a professional naturalist as well as a writer, videographer and producer of natural history DVDs. His images have been used in various TV productions, museum displays, and corporate videos. Above all, he has a fascination and passion for all things natural.
He can be found Tuesday thru Saturday in Explore the Wild, Catch the Wind, or on the Dinosaur Trail. Ask him what’s new in the wild!