Common Merganser (Female)
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|I photographed it on the shore of Pangong Tso Lake at 14,500 feet ASL in Ladakh.|
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.
The Common Merganser usually nests in tree cavities, either those made by large woodpeckers or from where a limb broke off. It 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.
Young Common Mergansers 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.
Gulls of various species often follow flocks of foraging Common Mergansers. The gulls wait for the ducks to come to the surface with fish, and then they try to steal their prey. Occasionally even a Bald Eagle will try to steal a fish from a successful merganser.
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Your Ladakh portfolio seems to be filled up with rather uncommon (for me at least) species and how well you manage to capture and present it. In a way the clear water behind reflects the purity of that part of the world.