Last year came and went, and I didn't see a Hooded Merganser. If I recall it was on October 1, 2010 at Forest Pond when I first saw one. Even then, I don't remember being so impressed as I was this year when I saw one at Neville's Pond. With binoculars, it was stunning. Unfortunately, it chose to stay in the center of the pond, and I couldn't really study nor photograph it.
When word came that one had settled in at Mundy Pond, only a short distance away, I was pretty happy. I headed over on one of the last sunny days we had (October 19) to get a better look. Comfortably settled into the lagoon, it was easy to look at this Hooded Mergansers with binoculars. It was really amazing to watch how he raised and lowered his fan-shaped crest.
When raised, it looked like a sail in the wind. When lowered he looked like he was wearing over sized earphones. I chose a variety of photos to best illustrate how fluid the movement of his crest is. In each picture, the crest looks a little different.
Who knows what brought this duck here, but he better get started soon on his trip to Mexico where Hooded Mergansers typically winter. The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder, not to mention the sun just fell out of the sky somewhere.
Little by little ducks are beginning to show up in the small ponds. A Pied-billed Grebe still frequents Kent's Pond, and another has been at Stick Pond for over a week. The Stick Pond Grebe is really tricky. The moment it sees people, it dives and totally disappears. It must come up again among the reeds, but it is impossible to find. Clearly, it has not been around people very much. By contrast, the Hooded Merganser seems to have adapted well to having people tramp through the wet, tall grass to get a better look.
With the weather improving toward the south of us, this Hooded Merganser may soon be on its way.
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