Common Mergansers Really Aren’t that Common Around Here

I spotted my first male Common Merganser of the year nearly three weeks ago, and it fled so swiftly that the best I could manage was this blurred shot of it just taking off.


Despite that I probably got the best shots I’ll ever get of a male Common Merganser in breeding colors two years ago in Santa Rosa, I was determined to get a good shot this year, too. I became even more determined when several pairs of mergansers


showed up regularly two weeks ago, though they were shy enough to hang out on the other side of the Union River at a bend that is relatively inaccessible from the refuge.

Paying attention to where they fished and where they hung out finally paid off when I captured this shot of a pair resting on the Union River.


It’s easy to see why Leslie couldn’t believe these were the same kind of ducks when you see them sitting together like this, but if you ignore the plumage the similarities become clearer.

I even managed to catch a shot of the male swimming up Union River that captures a little of its beauty.


Hopefully if I keep watching I’ll manage to get a good shot of a male merganser flying, though these mergansers seem to have become pretty comfortable around people now that hunting season is a distant memory and seem content to swim away rather than take flight.

5 thoughts on “Common Mergansers Really Aren’t that Common Around Here”

  1. I actually love that blurred shot of the guy flying; looks like one of those acrobatic planes gliding in for a landing on an aircraft carrier…

    1. If it wasn’t flying and was that blurred I wouldn’t have posted it, but, yes, some blurring suggests flying to me, too. Not sure my fellow bird photographers would agree with that, though.

  2. When I was a kid in the 1950s I spent a lot of time at Drakes Estero. I would launch my home made plywood boat where the slew crosses Sir Francis Drake Blvd, then motor out to the estero. In those days loons were so common that at any time at least one loon would be in flight over the estero. But now I am lucky to see one swimming loon. Also, during the 1950s about 2000 to 4000 Brant (a small sea goose) wintered at Drakes Estero. Now only about 100 Brant winter there.

    1. That seems to be the curse of being “old,” Rod. My kids and grandkids have no idea how different the Puget Sound is from when I was a kid fishing there.

      When you reach my age you can’t help but worry what is going to happen in another 100 years unless people take action to correct our generation’s mistakes.

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