About a month ago, before freeze-up, I spent a late fall afternoon at a local lake to photograph mergansers passing through the region. These birds are notoriously shy and hence difficult to photograph. However, by studying the pattern of their feeding frenzies I was able to preposition myself at specific locales to obtain some half decent shots.
Not only must the merganser dive into the water to catch unsuspecting fish, it must also outwit seagulls and other predators on the surface to keep it!! I was amazed at both the size of the fish they could wolf down and at the frenzy of the surface chase.
Female common merganser displaying the reversed serrations on the bill which puts fish in a death grip. This feature gives rise to the colloquial name of “Sawbills”.
Male Common Merganser tries to elude an aggressive competitor.
Wild surface action!
CRUNCH!!! Hooded Merganser chomps down on a catfish.
Female Hooded Merganser about to crunch into a crab.