In Big sur river
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) – female
23 October 2015: Walked down to the River Place Marina and the South Waterfront Park Garden next to the Willamette River a few miles before it joins the mighty Columbia River where the cities of Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington, were founded and meet on opposite sides of the Columbia. It was early in the morning and we were able to photograph the sunrise over the Willamette and Portland while on our hike to the banks of the river. There were many homeless people on the waterfront with pitched tents on the sandbars of the river as well and sleeping on the park benches. There was also what must be the usual large contingent of early morning risers who do their running, jogging and bicycling before, during and right after sunrise. It was a morning and place of stark contrasts. The sunlight was a bit hazy as the night’s humidity lifted slowly as the morning progressed. One of the first birds we photographed were several female Common Mergansers (Mergus merganser) who kept their distance from us as zones of proximity go when working with wildlife. And so these were the best pics we managed on this particular day. Common Merganser was diving for food at sunrise on the Willamette River. We had never photographed Common Merganser before and the male of the species was nowhere to be seen. In order to highlight the basic features of Common Merganser we have Lightroomed the pics in order to bring out the light as these pics were taken with the predawn light just before the sun lifted its face above the eastern horizon of the city and the river.
According to the range map on All About Birds, Common Merganser is a year-round resident of most of the Pacific Northwest (see Sources). Common Merganser is found throughout North America and most of the continental United States except for most of Texas and the rest of the Southeast and South of the nation. The farthest southeastern reach of this species is extreme West Texas including El Paso and the Big Bend area taking up parts of northern Mexico in Coahuila, Chihuahua and Sonora. Most of Canada and Alaska know the presence of Common Merganser either as a breeding or migratory species and Common Merganser’s permanent and breeding range extends into the Alaskan coastline as far as the Aleutian Islands. Because of its extensive presence over the North American map especially that of United States, Canada and Mexico, Common Merganser is without question an authentic resident of the Western Hemisphere.
Here is the brief description of this North American waterfowl provided in All About Birds: “Common Mergansers are streamlined ducks that float gracefully down small rivers or shallow shorelines. The males are striking with clean white bodies, dark green heads, and a slender, serrated red bill. The elegant gray-bodied females have rich, cinnamon heads with a short crest. In summer, look for them leading ducklings from eddy to eddy along streams or standing on a flat rock in the middle of the current. These large ducks nest in hollow trees; in winter they form flocks on larger bodies of water.”
“Common Merganser,” All About Birds, Cornell University Lab of Ornithology, range map, description, recorded calls, photogrpahs, accessed 10.30.15, http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Common_Merganser/id
“Common Merganser,” Northwest Birding, photographs, and brief description, accessed 10.30.15, http://northwestbirding.com/Birds/common_merganser.html
Five immature merganser, potato quality photos likely Common rather than red-breasted - thick neck & bill?