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your reward this morning is mergansers

Back on my feet again and down the tow-path; who will I see today? A few mallard, some fat coot, and the usual gang of feral geese. Six magpies and a flock of pigeons foraging in the paddock. The usual gang of gulls disappointed by my lack of bread. A pair of chaffinch, starting away from me, flashing black-and-white wings. A flock of mixed tits, and closer views of Great tit, Blue tit, Long tailed tit. A Dunnock, fluffed up against the cold, singing a soft practice song. The robin, the blackbird, in their respective territories. In the rarities list, a rather small Black-backed gull. Could be the rarer Lesser Black-backed, but might be a young one, like the Grebe I saw yesterday, ducking and diving.

Oh, and a trio of Red-breasted Merganser. Merganser are fish-eating ducks, diving saw-tooths with long, slender, serrated bills. Of all the ducks, they have the most of the dinosaur about them. The light was not good, they were skittish, and feeding on the far side of the Thames. But they looked much like these. The male has a bright raggedy green iridescent head; the female is a sparky redhead.

Inland and south isn't their natural home; more likely to see them on the Scottish coast, or in lakes. I worried briefly that they were escapees from a collection. Ornamentals are often kept in threes to increase the chance of breeding. But then they spotted me and flew downriver; definitely wild. Tourist ducks.


1st Feb, 2010 10:02 (UTC)
Of all the ducks, they have the most of the dinosaur about them.

A wonderful sentence.