Every birder and bird photographer that I know has an unofficial nemesis list. The list is usually comprised of birds that they have tried to see or capture images of. For the photographer, the nemesis list usually starts with capturing a mediocre photo and then trying in vain to get a better one. The Hooded Merganser has been on my nemesis list since I started taking bird photography seriously. Back then, I was able to get some decent record shots but when I tried to get a ‘calendar shot’ I soon learned they are a skittish bird and a more stealthy approach would be required. I have tried a number of times since then to find and stalk the Hooded Merganser. Yesterday I realized I may get my chance.
Ben’s Ditch is a small creek that drains some of the developed wetland that is situated on the east side of Orillia and eventually that creek winds its way past the landfill, the sewage treatment plant and eventually into Lake Simcoe. Ben’s Ditch stays open most of the year due to the warm water from the treatment plant and we always pause to take a look to see who could be there. I checked out Ben’s Ditch yesterday and much to my delight, I saw a Hoodie casually swimming near some fallen trees. With winter fast approaching and temperatures rapidly falling, I knew the window of opportunity was fleeting since there is no predicting when the Hoodies would leave to continue on their southerly migration. So I bundled up this morning and hoped for the best!
The Hooded Merganser is the smallest of 3 mergansers found in North America, the others being the Common and Red-breasted. Both the male and female Hoodies have a large collapsible crest but the male’s is quite extravagant with it’s large white crest. The Hooded Merganser nests in tree cavities and the young jump out of their nest when they are only 24 hours old.
Thanks for stopping by!