Sullivan County interesting morning.

Red-breasted Mergansers seen today. Anyone have any thoughts on this bird?


With the rarity rush seemingly over (hopefully just for the moment) I headed to some regular spots to see what was happening. There were no birds at the Apollo Plaza. The Neversink River was another story. All breeding birds (I think) that would be expected and one surprise revisited. I found a Red-breasted Merganser at the exact same spot I found one four days ago. I was all ready to enter it as a possible breeding bird when……. I compared my photos with Tuesdays. I watched this bird for some time. It actively hunted and fed. I really thought I was looking at the same bird I had seen previously. Here’s the problem. When I got home and looked at my photos, it appears to be a different bird. I compared photos from Tuesday and there is definitely more white in the face and throat of this bird. It has a dark line through its mid face as well. The bill is long and thin, the forehead steep, the breast heavy with striations and the overall plumage consistent with Red-breasted Merganser. The age….? If any of the experts on mergansers can shed some light on this bird, I would appreciate it. Can there really be two Red-breasted Mergansers at the same location at this time of the year? At any rate we’ll see what happens as I continue to track the/these birds. I then headed to the Bashakill. Things were about as expected with all the usual breeding species accounted for. One new surprise there was finding an Eastern Screech-owl in the side of a Sycamore Tree. The surprise in this was that it is the first Red-phase individual I have seen this year.
Addendum: I spent quite a bit of time viewing Red-breasted Merganser photos on the internet this afternoon, and this birds plumage is well represented. I didn’t realize they can be that variable. I’m still not sure what age that makes this bird, clearly at least a year. Also, its still not the bird I photographed a few days ago.

My first Red-phase Eastern Screech-owl of the year.

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