Nature Study on the Run
I ran along the river trail this afternoon - my favorite course in Central Oregon for the proximity to the river and thereby the wildlife. It is also a rather hilly course and in some sections, the footing is a little tricky so it adds a bit of a challenge.
At the four mile mark, just after I had made the turn at Farewell Bend, I came across two birdwatchers observing a flock of ducks in the river. Two I recognized immediately as an assumedly mated pair of Mallards. The others I was not familiar with so I inquired and being allowed to borrow their scope, was informed the brown headed ones were Mergansers.
From our distance, there was one other duck that had a dark head and back in the same color pattern as the two pictured below. We assumed it was a different species... however, upon my return home and in my attempt to find more information about Mergansers in general, I now believe it too, is a Merganser. A large diving duck with a long thin bill, the Common Merganser is found along large lakes and rivers across the northern hemisphere. The long bill has toothy projections along its edges that help the duck hold onto its slippery fish prey. Males are boldly patterned with white sides, black back, and green head. Females are dull gray with reddish head and white chin.
They nest in tree cavities, either those made by large woodpeckers or from where a limb broke off. They will also use a nest box. Infrequently a Common Merganser might make its nest in a rock crevice, a hole in the ground, a hollow log, in an old building, or in a chimney.
The young leave their nest hole within a day or so of hatching. The mother protects the chicks, but she does not feed them. They dive to catch all of their own food. They eat mostly aquatic insects at first, but switch over to fish when they are about 12 days old.
ORN: 6.4 miles at average pace of 10:25 min mile (several large stretches of ice whereby I opted to walk as I didn't bring the Trax).
OSN: 400m warm-up; 250m w/ fins; 4 rounds of 4 x 25m IM speed work; 10 x 75m freestyle drill (50m fists/25m palm); 6 x 25m freestyle fast (w/fins); 50m cool-down = 2000m