A Plethora of Common Mergansers

One of my favorite places in Santa Rosa despite the crowds of people in Howarth City Park/ Spring Lake. I’ve been walking there for over 15 years now and I think I enjoy it more now than I did when I started walking since I’ve taken up birdwatching.

Although you can generally count on a few birds being there every time you walk, in recent years I have been pleasantly surprised by seeing birds I’ve never seen there before.

I was hoping to see snowy egrets there as I had in the recent past. Instead, I found a small flock of, and mergansers, a bird I never remember seeing there before, certainly not as close as I did this time.

This is surely the closest I’ve ever gotten to a common merganser

male Common Merganser

as I’ve never seen the kind of fine detail in the feathers shown here.

They were so indifferent to my presence that I could even watch them trolling for fish


and was amazed how fast they snorkeled along.

This female seemed a little shy, keeping her distance

female Common Merganser

and even taking flight when I focused on her too long.

merganser taking off

Strangely, while the ducks nearby generally ignored me, the mergansers further out in the lake took off when I pointed my lens at them,

three mergansers taking off

and while I wouldn’t intentionally scare them I was happy to get this good of shots of them in flight, my favorite way to portray birds.

mergansers in flight

It seemed like an auspicious start to my walk.