Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Red-breasted Merganser

The afternoon of February 11th saw me visiting Shoningahama Beach for the first time in a long while. I was surprised by how low the tide was. All the hidden rocks and algae were exposed and attracted lots of birds and local people who came to pick up shellfish and stuff. I found a flock of Red-breasted Mergansers (Mergus serrator) resting on the rock. Tonai-san, another birder in Beppu, was already there taking photos of them at close range. There were at least 6 females/eclipse males with only 1 drake. As usual, the drake was more wary and difficult to get good photos. It always kept more distance from the shore and would dive away when I get too close.

Male and female Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)

I haven't checked Shoningahama Beach very often this winter, but I have a feeling that the overall number of Red-breasted Merganser is lower than last year. Tonai-san also complained to me about how birdless this winter is. I thought it might be because this winter has been kind of delayed. Yesterday, the snow has fallen again on Mt. Tsurumi after a period of really warm days. The weather is becoming more and more unpredictable. I bet the birds are confused too.

Female birds with Vega Gull (Larus vegae) in the background

Searching for food underwater

Alert position

Even though the drake wasn't quite cooperative, I had a great fun taking photos of the female birds that were resting on the rocks. There were 2 pairs of female birds that came resting on the rocks in front of the place where I was sitting. Tonai-san and I were hiding behind a big rock just about 15 metres away from the birds. I bet he also got loads of decent shots.

Female Red-breasted Merganser

This female bird was the most obliging.

Note the 'sawbill'

The same eclipse male with infected eyelids.

This female has much shorter crest and paler iris than the others.


  1. Looks like Red-breasted Mergansrs are the same shy birds the world over. I can not get close to them at all. Your shots are much better and brighter than any I can get Tony.

  2. Fine-looking birds and good light...