Saturday, April 25, 2015

Red-breasted Mergansers at Barber Park

This past winter a handful of Red-breasted Mergansers hung out on the Boise River near Barber Park. They’re uncommon but regular along the Boise River in the winter, but this year’s birds were unique in that they were males in their beautiful breeding plumage. The winter birds that show up around here are typically females or males in non-breeding plumage, which can be trickier to separate from the much more abundant Common Mergansers.

We caught up with them on the last day of January near Barber Park. They were a little difficult to spot, as they were actually hanging out on a part of the river where a small island split the river, and spent most of their time on the back of the island where they couldn’t be seen from the trail on the Barber Park side of the river. They were repeatedly drifting downstream, then quickly flying back upstream, just to rest on the river drifting downstream again to do the whole thing over again. I couldn’t ever really find an unobstructed shot, as they were quite flighty and were spooking anytime I had a nice clear view. Even though this shot was obstructed, I kept it because it was our first chance to actually photograph this species. We usually just see them from far away across a large lake or reservoir, so this was still an upgrade.

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Red-breasted Mergansers at Barber Park, Ada County. January 31, 2015.

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