CINNAMON GIRL – HOODED MERGANSER IN THE HOOD!

A spunky female Hooded Merganser was seen for a day, skittering about Eastern Point. Don’t you love her cinnamon-colored feather-do? Her crest looked especially beautiful when she swam into sunlit areas.

Sightings of Hooded Mergansers nesting in Massachusetts are on the rise. Like Wood Ducks, Hooded Mergansers nest in tree cavities. The natural reforestation of Massachusetts over the past one hundred years has increased nesting habitat. And too, Hooded Mergansers have benefitted from nesting box programs designed  to encourage Wood Duck nesting.

Hoodies eat crustaceans, fish, and insects. As water quality in Massachusetts has improved so too has the prey population increased. Additionally, the statewide recovery of North American Beavers has increased nesting habitat for many species of birds, including Hooded Mergansers and Wood Ducks.

I looked for the little Hoodie on subsequent days, but only saw her that one afternoon. The photos included here, of a singular male, were taken in Rockport in 2016.

Male Hooded Merganser (and Mallard), Rockport Harbor

Watch as the one-day old Hooded Merganser ducklings skydive to the forest floor, from a nest cavity five stories high up a tree.

 

Hooded Mergansers, like Cowbirds, often lay their eggs in other bird’s nests, including other Hooded Mergansers. Although a female Hoodie can lay up to 13 eggs, in one nest 44 Hooded Merganser ducklings hatched!

Hooded Merganser Range Map

BEAVER CENTRAL!!

pond-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smithLast winter Liv and Matt showed me a place on the outskirts of Dogtown where they go rock climbing. I filed it away under places to visit during warmer weather. With all things Piping Plovers and filming shorebirds I didn’t have a chance to revisit until this fall. The pond is somewhat difficult to explore, with no trails, lots of viney runners to trip you up, rocky uneven surfaces for falling flat on your face, and loaded with ticks but nonetheless, is exquisitely beautiful. Until its name is learned and for the time being, I’m calling it Beaver Pond because so far, I’ve counted FIVE beavers there!beaver-lodge-2-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smith

beaver-lodge-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smithThe beavers appear to have one large lodge with multiple mini-dens strategically built around the perimeter of the pond.

log-chewed-by-beaver-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smith

Evidence of an active beaver pond with gnawed log

The Beaver Family is nocturnal and conducting most of its business on the far side of the pond. I have only been able to shoot a photo outside my camera’s range of quality photo.

beaver-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smithThere’s the beaver, on the far side of the pond, blending with the lily pads and fallen leaves

I did manage to take some fun footage, which I will be hopefully uploading in the next few days. One early evening, I sat as still as a stone, for at least half an hour, when one swam nearly right up to my feet!! I am usually filming and photographing simultaneously, but was afraid to make a move to switch to my still camera for fear that the slightest bit of motion would send the creature diving. Also on the furthest side of the pond were a family of the unbelievably beautiful Wood Ducks. That photo is also too far outside my camera’s quality photo range, but at least you can get an idea of their striking feather patterning. More information from Beaver Central to come!wood-duck-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smith Male and female Wood Ducks – notice the female’s large white eye patch and the way she blends perfectly with her surroundings.