Pretty certain that I saw three COMMON MERGANSERS on the Winooski River off
Bridge Street in Richmond yesterday afternoon... one male swimming just
south of the bridge, and a pair (male and female) resting on the gravel spit
on the northeast side of the river. I pulled over in a driveway and used
the binos after spying a bright white something with a dark head swimming on
The dark green head, white body, and red bill of the swimming male were all
plainly visible. However, while I have seen mergansers before, I did not
immediately ID these as such because the swimming male's bill looked less
pointy than I'm accustomed to seeing on mergs (I have to assume it was my
angle of view, b/c everything else was consistent with a merg) and because
I've always seen them on lakes and ponds in the past, not in rivers.
The pair on the spit had their heads tucked under their wings and my view
was partially obscured by low-hanging tree branch, but I could make out the
striking dark green of the male's head and his white body, and just behind
him, the top of a brown head peeking out. The resting male was obviously
the same species as the swimming male. I am therefore assuming that the
brown head cuddled up behind him was a female.
I feel pretty confident in the ID, but if anyone else has seen them and I'm
mistaken, please do correct me. I'll keep watch in the coming weeks -- it
would be lovely to discover they're nesting nearby.