Hooded Merganzers – New Winter Arrivals

One of my favorite winter water birds is the Hooded Merganzer (Lophodytes cucullatus).  Thanksgiving Day morning, while Ann was cooking our holiday meal, I decided to stay out of her way, and out of the house.  First I went to San Angelo State Park, the first time I had been there in a couple of months.  More on that a little later.  After I left the park, I decided to go by a small lake a few blocks from our house.  I don’t know if it has an official name, but because it is near Sunset Mall on Sunset Drive, I will call it Sunset Lake.

It is a regular place where a lot of waterbirds hang out.  I stopped at a favorite viewing spot on Huntington Street and walked down to the shore.  There more than  a hundred Hooded Merganzers, Ruddy Ducks, Northern Shovelers, and I think I saw some Lesser Scaups.  I was walking and traveling light, so I had my Canon 7D and a Canon 100-400mm zoom lens.  Perfect for the situation.  From my position, though, all of the birds were back-lighted in the morning sun.  But I had to live with it as, because of the residental homes, this is probably the only place that I could get close to the water.

Hooded Merganzer

female Hooded Merganzer

Hooded Merganzer

female Hooded Merganzer

Now back to the subject of San Angelo State Park.  I was very disappointed in the condition of the bird blind.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, Ann and I took upon us the care, maintenance and feeding the blind for a couple of years.  We retired from the job at the end of June 2011.

When I arrived there Thursday morning, I saw one, and only one Savannah Sparrow, and that was the only bird that I observed.  There obviously hadn’t been feed put out in several days (weeks?).  One feeder was broken.  A window in the blind was broken out.  No water was flowing in to the water basin.  Weeds were tall.  I walked around for about 15 minutes and saw not a sign of any other bird, save for that one and only sparrow.

I don’t know what the problem is.  It seems to me that know one really cares about the birding prospects for the park.  The powers-that-be haven’t  grasped the fact that birding is getting to be a very, very popular past-time in Texas.  Texas is one of the leading states for birding, as it is in the migratory paths of most species.  All of the other state parks, are taking advantage by erecting new blinds for photographers and birders.  Therefore, they are getting a lot more revenue that is sorely needed.

So unless San Angelo State Park wakes up, they are going to lose out on a very good source of income.  In the past I have always bragged about the park, but now I have to say that is not the park that it used to be.

So now I have vented, and I feel good about it.  Now, I’ll probably get letters.  So be it.

33 thoughts on “Hooded Merganzers – New Winter Arrivals

    • According to all of my guides, they winter in Canada, then migrate down and spend winter across the central part of the country. I think they are little cuties. Thanks for commenting, Melissa. I love hearing from you. 🙂

  1. Pingback: Some more rainy day thoughts « Quietsolopursuits's Blog

  2. As always, I love your pictures, despite your saying the conditions were less than ideal. The male merganzer reminds me of the bride of Frankenstein! 🙂

  3. Bob, as usual, your pictures are lovely and your article is very appealing. It might get some notice as an editorial in your local newspaper. Good luck.

  4. good for you, for speaking up! And thank you for the time you and Ann gave for the benefit of our fine feathered friends-it benfits all of us.Luckily I see some real young keeners coming to outtings with local nature clubs and they are getting involved. I tried getting to a birding area near town today and there is a highway running through it (lots of protest over that one but it didn’t do any good) but no place to park.It can be accessed but a very long walk from the closest parking.Now I’m ranting…

  5. That’s too bad about the bird blind…. 😦 That’s probably the reason why I’ve never seen any sign of life when I check out the blind at Fenner Nature Center – there’s no food!!

  6. Hello Bob,
    The squeaky wheel gets the grease! Hopefully your blog will be seen by the right people. The times I was there with you and Ann I thought it was a wonderful place.yhall did such a good job taking care of it. Love those duck shots…..new ducks to me. Have a great week Bob,

    Hope to see you soon!


  7. Send them a copy of your blog– birdwatching is one of the most popular hobbies in America. Davis Mts. State Park does a great job keeping up the feeders and catering to birders. Maybe this one is short-staffed. Keep up the great images!

    • I will certainly do that, Cindy. I agree with you about Davis Mts State Park. They do a magnificent job as does the South Llano State Park. Thanks for the comment. I appreciate it.

  8. Our hooded merganzers haven’t left yet, at least not all of them. I saw a few yesterday in Ludington, but didn’t get any usable photos. You wouldn’t recognize Ludington any more. It’s been spruced up a lot since the 60’s and 70’s. All the old mansions the lumber barons build have been nicely restored and many of them are now a bed and breakfast.

    I know how you feel about the bird blind and the state park. Two of my pet peeves are drunken rowdies and vanadals, and poachers. I have gone so far as toprogram the report poaching hotline phone number into my cell phone. I know we’ve been brainwashed in the country not to rat, but if some one were vandalizing our property, we would call the cops. The things in a park like the bird blind are our property as well, we pay for it, and the repairs. So, any one who wants to call me a rat can, I don’t care.

  9. I think you have every right to vent about the situation Bob, it’s too bad that a lot of folks just don’t care what goes on around them. Ok I’m finished venting too. Fantastic photos Bob…Merganzers are another species I have ever seen in person. Thanks!

    • Thanks for the vent, and thanks for the comments on the photos, David. I had never seen any merganzers until I got into this birding thing. But they always have been here, I just never noticed. 🙂

  10. Bob, your photos are amazing.  I’m so glad to read that you spoke up about something close to your heart.  Someone has to preserve the wildlife and nature for the next generation.  One person can make a difference and being different is not always comfortable as it meets opposition.  You probably find that you are not alone in your thoughts.  Condider my reply a positive letter supporting your efforts.  

    • Thank you so very much, Martina. I appreciate what you said about you supporting me. I can tell from your comment and the others that a good many people feel the same as I.

      I am glad that you like my photos, too. 🙂

  11. Great photos, Bob, and I think you are absolutely right! When you have put time, work and effort into sustaining and developing something for everyone to enjoy and then pass it on to find that it goes to wreck and ruin, you have a right to be annoyed and vent your feelings! Well done you!



  12. Bob I so relate to your concern of the birdwatching area at your park. We have the same thing here where we live..small pond, nice gazebo, good viewing for bird watching and yes, the public destroys it faster I think than it can be repaired. Love your photos…you have all of summer visitors now..take care and have a fabulous day…

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