I Spotted My First of Season Common Merganser

/, Common Mergansers, Salt Lake County, Utah/I Spotted My First of Season Common Merganser

Female Common Merganser on icy blue waterFemale Common Merganser on icy blue water – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/500, ISO 320, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

While at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge two days ago I spotted my first of the season Common Merganser from the auto tour route. It was a beautiful female much like the hen in the photo above. I wasn’t able to take any photos of it though because it was skittish, on the wrong side of the road and if I had gotten out of the “mobile blind” the merganser would have been long gone before I could have gotten it in my viewfinder. Still, I was excited because she was my first spotting of these mergansers since early this spring.

Common Mergansers breed just north of Utah and I do see them on their breeding grounds in Idaho and Montana but not down here in Utah (there are a few places south of where I live where they breed). I once saw a beautiful flock of them on Cliff Lake in Montana and to my regret I didn’t get any high quality photos of them that day because they moved away before I could get my gear set up.

So for the next few months I can look forward to photographing these saw-billed ducks close to home at local ponds, at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and hopefully at Farmington Bay WMA. I also hope to add more photos of the drakes in breeding plumage to my portfolio as well, I see fewer males than females most of the time which is why I don’t have as many images of them as I do the hens.

I photographed the female Common Merganser above at one of the local ponds on December 12th of 2016, she was part of a small flock on the pond that day and she swam close enough for me to take frame filling photos of her on the icy blue water. There was a bit of a breeze blowing that day which caused some of the feathers on her head to stick up. She is rocking that punked out look.

I’m happy that the mergansers are back, they are fun to photograph!

Life is good.



  1. April Olson November 24, 2017 at 10:12 am

    So nice too see again. Still very few birds at FBWMA last night. However I did see a big group of Ruddies in the waterfowl resting area.

  2. Patty Chadwick November 24, 2017 at 8:48 am

    She sure is a beauty! Love that elegant red crest…..the water,reflecting the blue of the sky, is a perfect setting for her…

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