Friday, April 04, 2008

A Big Fish Story and a Hooded Merganser

I figured I had hit the mother lode of Hooded Mergansers yesterday when I came upon this group of six Hooded Mergansers; four males and two females! Not great numbers I know, but for me, being a person who usually finds only a pair now and then, I thought this was a treasure of a find! So I was satisfied with just photographing the group but as I stayed and watched I saw a little drama play out when I noticed that one of the males had caught a fish.
Hooded Mergansers are fish-eating ducks and so I was pretty happy to see one with a fish in its mouth (bill).

The fish didn't seem to have gone down with the first try so while the 'Hoodie' paused in its eating I was able to get a picture that showed the size of the fish in comparison to the Merganser. It looked like a pretty big fish!
Okay, now for another try! This picture above, although not the sharpest, does gives a pretty good indication that the fish appears to be quite wide. I wonder if perhaps it was a Sunfish? We used to catch them sometimes when we were kids, fishing with a stick pole and line. The fish we called 'Sunfish' were brownish or goldish in colour and were more oval than lengthy and wider rather than slender.

The Hooded Merganser still can't get the fish down and the tail of the fish seems to have flopped down over its bottom bill. This picture reminds me of a Seal as the merganser's wings look like flippers.

All of a sudden it seemed to be too much and the Merganser reared out of the water! It doesn't seem to be able to swallow the fish. As well as being quite wide, I wonder if the fish has sharp fins

I would say this guy looks really exasperated!
And he decides to get rid of it! Below, although the picture is very poor if you look very carefully you can see the fish falling back into the water in front of the Merganser.
I think the moral of this story might be:
"If the job is too much of a challenge, don't bite off more than you can chew!"


Mary said...

I'm sorry about that aborted first comment...misspelled some things in my hurry. This is a very funny series of shots! That second to last one really shows how wide that fish is and why he is having troubles! Poor Merganser just wanted some breakfast and had eyes bigger then his mouth :-) Lucky fish, unlucky Merganser. Great pics and story to go with them.

Sandpiper said...

Holy smokes!! These are fantastic shots! I've never seen this behaviour photographed with mergansers. How great! The hooded mergansers around here are so shy and they scoot away so fast. I've only been able to get distant shots of them. What a posting!

NB Nature Lover said...

Pretty funny Dolittle. I swear animals decide to show off for you. They perform when they see your camera. Love the pic with the big splash off to the side.

RuthieJ said...

That was a really BIG fish compared to that duck's mouth. Lucky for you he didn't figure it out until after you got all those neat pictures.

me and my camera said...

I was really surprised at the size of the fish when I saw the pictures after downloading. The sequence didn't last long but the merganser was moving around so much I was able to get a variety of poses from different angles.

NB nature lover:
I am learing to just sit and wait and watch, even after I think I have taken enough pictures. Then when I saw the merganser with a fish I just started clicking again and didn't know what sort of details I had captured until I had downloaded the pics at home. It turned out to be another lucky photo shoot!

me and my camera said...

I wasn't all that close as I was sitting in my car on the side of the road. The mergansers probably didn't see me, for the first time I saw them I drove by on down the road, then turned and kind of crept up slowly and parked. And I just sat there quietly and used my telescopic lens. And fortunately I stayed long enough.

That second to last picture just has to be a favourite from the sequence and I was lucky to get it I think. The fish is so wide! No wonder the merganser did his dance upon the water!

Mary said...

I meant to ask: could the fish be a perch? Looks like what we used to catch in Lake Erie and they are very tasty to eat! Just saw your robin shot on the a lot of robins!

me and my camera said...

I don't know much about fish; and don't know if there would be perch there or not. This is kind of a pond area between a railroad track and a road, but there is a connection to a river on the other side of the railroad track I think.
The robin pic is a composite of course, but we seem to have tons of them within the last couple of days.

Birdnerd said...

Fantastic shots, as usual!


Kingsdowner said...

Brilliant - what a marvellous 'tail' :-}.

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