|My first glimpse of the Gooseanders (Mergus merganser)|
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,