Tuesday 21st February: Merganser Still

Pretty similar to yesterday really though not quite as cold with a moderate westerly breeze and overcast conditions. There was an extra RUFF today with three birds now present along with 3 DUNLIN and just 2 REDSHANK today. The PINTAIL count today was 10 birds. There was plenty of hot sawbill action again tonight with 19 GOOSANDERS and the RED-BREASTED MERGANSER still.

I know that this blog has quite an eclectic readership, ranging from hardcore seasoned birders through to occasional dabblers so for the benefit of those who are less experienced but who might be interested in seeing the merganser I thought that I would offer a few pointers on picking it out. It's identification can be quite tricky as, since it is a red-head, it is only subtly different from the red-head goosanders. The merganser is smaller and slimmer (think scrawny goosander) with a shorter crest, darker back and a less well-defined border between the red head and the paler breast. One of the most noticeable differences is the bill: goosanders have a dark bill whereas the mergansers is noticeably paler and slimmer with a hint of an up-curve to it, compared to the goosanders bill which is more solid and with a definite hook downwards at the tip. After practice it becomes easy to tell them apart but at a distance in poor light it does require careful looking.

The merganser this evening

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