Monday, 4 May 2015

Day 182 - Gorgeously Glamourous Gooseanders

My first glimpse of the Gooseanders (Mergus merganser)
Hey everyone, well it's day 183 and I was back at a place today where I go with Mum and Dad quite often as it's a lovely woodland walk alongside a nice river. It was a glorious day and the air was full of the smell of Ramsons and the birds were singing away. I did a post on a ramble here on day 135 and I was glad today to see some old favourites here. I was lucky enough to see a Grey Wagtail and a couple of Treecreepers again today amongst a lot of other birds. I was hoping I'd see today's subject there again as I only got a little bit of a glimpse of it last time I was there, and that was the only time I had seen one. So really pleased that today I was able to get some better shots of the Goosanders there!

So I did my research and I found out the following:

A look up the river at Ripon

  • They are resident mainly in the North and West of the UK when breeding and tend to winter more in the South. These today must be at the edge of their breeding range at Ripon according to the RSPB map.
  • I hope they are breeding here as I will go back and check as I've seen pictures of the ducklings riding on their mothers backs! So want a photo of that!
  • They are part of a family of Ducks called Sawbills. They are called this as they have a narrow bill with saw like teeth which are great for catching fish. Also in this family are Red Mergansers and Smews.
  • Their diet is fish, which they dive to catch, and they like fast flowing rivers in mature woodland so that they can find trees with holes in to breed. Sounds just like these woods at Ripon!
  • They are quite big being 62cm long and with a wingspan of 90cm. Males are a hefty 1.7kg and females 1.3kg
The Female Gooseander
  • An interesting fact I found is that it takes around 33kg of fish to bring up a baby Gooseander to an adult. As they need to eat too taking all that fish, especially salmon and trout, doesn't make them popular with fishermen. In fact in some parts of Scotland they are shot to protect angling interests. I only hope the fishermen eat what they catch rather than have birds killed and then just inflict pain on a fish for no reason :(
  • Happily they are a green status so at least the shooting isn't affecting their numbers here in the UK where there are around 3,500 pairs in the summer. But even so...
And the Male with the Female just upstream
  • They live on average for 7 years but the oldest recorded Gooseander was 9 years, 6 months and 28 days.
  • When they move to their winter grounds they tend to go to lakes, gravel pits, reservoirs or sometimes estuaries.
  • They can gather together in large numbers forming flocks of thousands of birds in some parts of Europe. They have a great collective noun, they form a Dopping of Gooseanders!
Well, I hope that was a nice summary of Gooseanders, a lovely bird! If you want to know more about them try these links:

Hope you enjoyed,


1 comment:

  1. Beautiful photos here Zach, I love that first shot of the pair swimming along the river. I've not come across a Gooseander on my travels yet but I will keep an eye out, their pretty indeed! - Tasha