Seeing Red

Everyone have one of those days when it feels like someone took a sledge hammer and smashed it against the outsides of both your thighs?  No? I expected that to be a little more common.  Anyway, that is EXACTLY how my legs feel at the moment.  I’ve got them all lathered up in BioFreeze, which is making it bearable for the moment .  My hope is another day of staying down will allow this little problem to pass (fingers crossed and rabbits feet rubbed – still on living rabbits of course).  To help pass the time, let’s talk about a surprise +1.

Red-Breasted Merganser at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge - April 2015

This little lady was shot down at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge back in April of last year – I know, based on my previous post timelines this one is like yesterday!  Good to know that my brother Ron is now experiencing what it is like to go on birding outings faster than your rate of processing.  Based on his recent California (noting that technically it wasn’t a birding outing and thus all +1’s are subject to sanctioning body validation) and Florida trips, I figure he will be in the 1 to 1.5 year delay range hehehe.

Red-Breasted Merganser at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge

You might be wondering exactly what this bird is.  Even if you are an avid birder you might have come to the quick conclusion this was a Common Merganser.  That was actually my first assessment until I started looking at the details in the digital darkroom.  The coloring seemed a bit off from my field references of the Common.  Sure enough, thanks to some extra time on Cornell’s website and a host of reference books, I decided it was actually a Red-Breasted Merganser.  The main clue being the absence of the white chin sported by the female Commons.

Once again, the theory that the loner birds are the most intriguing comes true.  This is the only specimen that was in the area that day.  No other Mergansers females or males were spotted … even after the painful process of hunting through the hundreds of Coots littered about the area.

Red-Breasted Merganser at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge

Eesh, out of pics already – it didn’t stay around very long at all – lucked out, right time, right place.  Better get to some quick facts before I close out this post.  I already mentioned that the Red females do not sport the white chin. Unlike the Common which spends its winters in the area, the Red is only here on its migratory path between Canada and the North American coastlines.  Probably just resting its wings a bit on its way back up to Northern Canada.  And… well, that’s about it – wow, pretty weak on the bird facts for the Red-Breasted Merganser per Cornell’s site.  They do carry the Least Concern Conservation Status so a big yeah on that one.

Apparently the first coat of BioFreeze is wearing off as indicated by the fact the underpants gnomes are once again stabbing me in the thighs with their steely knives.  Time to hobble down to the medicine cabinet and put the gnomes out of business (for at least tonight).  Catch you again real soon my friends.  Right now I’m going to take some pleasure in adding another check on the birding list.

Big thanks to Ron for also confirming the ID on this pretty lady.

2 thoughts on “Seeing Red”

  1. As I recall, the thinner (and I believe, longer) bill is another distinction from a Common Merganser. Plus there is less contrast between neck and chest coloring than the Common Merganser.

    Too bad I didn’t get one of these when I was at Emiquon the month before this. I may have one of these, though, I have to look.

    I expected, and recommended at the time, that you would take a month-long break from birding to help rest your legs that were hurting so badly. And yet I find you were birding at Jubilee State Park both days last weekend and soon will be doing the same in Colorado! Take it easy, rest a lot (and let me catch up a little on the bird count…).



  2. You are correct! Two more identifiers I can use in the field. Not sure if this was there when we were or not. Basically I lucked out and it happened to be paddling around away from the other inhabitants of the floodplain – always a clue for me to get to shooting.

    Ummmm, I have been resting and taking it easy – I feel bad I’m only getting a little more than 25 to 30 miles a week in these days – I feel like such a slacker…. well, a slacker whose legs are still very sore. Of course, you are the last person to be complaining about falling behind on bird counts. Last I heard new birds just parade themselves in front of your house heheheh


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