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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)

A few days ago I saw a Harlequin Duck very close to shore on my morning walk along the West Bay Walkway and cursed myself for not carrying my camera that day. Yesterday I took my camera with me in case he was still hanging around. No luck so I took some photos of what I thought was a Common Merganser swimming and diving some distance offshore. Once at home though and scrutinizing these photos carefully I realized that this bird was not a Common Merganser but something else. That white collar and rufous breast identify him as a male Red Breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator), a bird I've not identified (or seen) before. This serves as a good reminder to me that we often "see" what we expect to see, even when what we are looking at is something quite different.

The Red Breasted Merganser "...has been claimed to be the fastest bird in level flight, reaching speeds of 129 km/h (80 mph)..." according to Wikipedia. No wonder he's got that wind-blown hairstyle.

1 comment:

Pedro said...

Love the mergansers. They always keep their distance, so it's a treat to see them up-close, and they look so "punk rock".