Thursday, March 10, 2022

Red-Breasted Merganser

I've seen red-breasted mergansers twice, both at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach, California. I visited Bolsa Chica specifically to see them as I saw eBirding lists regularly noting them there. 
My first visit ended in abject failure as I left without seeing any (I thought). However, I'd encountered a flurry of water activity in a lagoon in front of me that I had no clue about what was happening. I imagined some seals or dolphins chasing a school of fish. Whatever it was, I pointed my camera and shot away. When I got home and edited my photos I was excited to learn I'd witnessed a mating ritual between male and female mergansers. It is the fasted flying duck, recorded at 100 mph. It also is an extremely fast swimming duck, as I witnessed. 
A male in the lead (unrecognizable) followed by a female in a blurry testament to their speed. 

They switched directions and now the male is chasing the female. 

The first good look at the chasing male. 

He comes up to her as things slowed down. 

She is eating something. 
It has a long, thin red bill with serrated edges, good for eating small fish, and is part of a grouping of ducks known as sawbills. It also has a spiky/fuzzy crest. The male has a dark head with a green sheen, a white neck, a rusty breast, a black back and white underparts. 

The female has a rusty head, a grayish body.  

The lone female on my second visit. 

1 comment:

  1. Makes you wonder what else we aren't seeing in the world around us, doesn't it?