My Morning with the Merganser’s

Hooded Merganser Pair
Hooded Merganser Pair
I crawl out of bed long before sunrise, dress, eat and drive to a pond in Crozet, VA. Grabbing 25 pounds of gear I trek across a lumpy wet grass field to my blind.  A quick check with my headlamp confirms no creepy critter has taken up residence so I move in for the morning. I set up my tripod, lens and attach camera; now the waiting begins. I am hunting – hunting ducks or whatever else will pose for me near my blind.
Bathing drake Hooded Merganser

Why go through the trouble?   The experience is sooo worth it! It starts with an overwhelming chorus of frogs and toads, a trilling to lift your heart. Then there’s the red wing blackbirds flitting about and screeching their special song. Suddenly they appear, the Hooded Merganser pair, a drake and hen. They winter here in Virginia, you just never think to find them in Central Virginia.

Hooded merganser hen stretching wings
Stretching Wings
Hooded Merganser Hen
It’s still too dark to get any good images, but I shoot a couple anyway, I’ll delete them later. Finally it starts to lighten and they have moved off. This is why I shot a couple earlier you never know how long they’ll stay around and I have to have at least one image! As the sun starts to come up, they come back, thank goodness. They are swimming around looking for breakfast. A tasty toad or frog. Smackdown wrestling takes place as the hen twists, dunks and slams the frog around before gulping it down whole.  Makes my stomach squirm just thinking about it!


Wrestling Frog

Next they bathe, the joy of water and rearing up to stretch their wings and realign those pesky feathers. Time for preening, a nap, more preening, a drink of water, more preening then, some sweet lovin’, however being pinned under the water doesn’t sound great to me, but it’s a bird thing. More bathing and preening, then off to find more frogs.

So I spent the last 2 mornings with the Merganser’s. It’s a ducks life!

Drake Hooded Merganser