The Red-breasted Merganser is one of the most striking birds that passes through this area but they don’t stick around for long. For several years I’ve been hoping to get some good photos but I only managed a few fleeting glimpses. So the last week has been special, with a half-dozen or more of these visitors hanging out on Lake Ontario each day on calm waters.
To get out to launch the kayak, though, I first had to get through the yard, where spring beauties are also calling for attention. On a sunny morning it’s hard not to notice the Siberian Squill coming up in the yard, though the blue flowers are just a few centimeters above the soil.
A recently returned Song Sparrow, too, wants to be noticed – and it helps when a well-timed gust of north wind lays on a deluxe coiffure.
A cute Grey Squirrel has been known to distract a photographer as well.
At the waterline Canada Geese are enjoying the fresh water and warm air.
In Westside Marsh a Belted Kingfisher has made it back before the Ospreys, and uses an empty Osprey platform to practice its dives.
But when I make it out to open water on the big lake I find the mergansers, several days in a row.
They are excellent divers, but sometimes in shallow water they seem happy to stay on the surface while scanning for fish.
At other times they splash past each other with wings and feet churning the water.
And then comes the move that really baffles me. Is this a class clown pretending to be pulled under by a fearsome sea monster and calling for help?
But no – the indispensable allaboutbirds.org fills me in: “Males dunk their chests and raise their heads and rears in a ‘curtsey’ display for females.” And in this case, the response seems clear enough: “Better luck next time.”
Photo at top of post: Your Attention Please (click here for larger view)