Sunday, April 3, 2016
It was a perfect evening for exploring side roads in the Priddis area when we came upon a picturesque little pond. As we rolled to a stop, we noticed a beaver in the pond working away on a piece of wood. A few minutes later we found its mate and we watched and photographed the beavers doing their busy work around the pond.
We hadn’t noticed a pair of Hooded Mergansers sleeping on a grass tuft in the pond until their nap was over and they started swimming across the water. The evening light was perfect and we watched them swim, dive, and preen for at least half an hour until something special happened.
First, we witnessed the Hooded Mergansers “dance” with each other – a beautiful ritual of splashing and preening in synchronicity. We suspected the dance might lead from one thing to another…and we were not disappointed!
After some time, the female laid her head down low against the water, and waited patiently for Mr. Handsome to strut his stuff… but Mr. Handsome wasn’t in a hurry and seemed more interested in putting on a good show than getting on with the show! He raised his crest over and over, splished and splashed until everything was just right. However, our boy eventually finished his performance and the pair mated right in front of our eyes. In the photo, you can see how he was holding her crest with his beak and “steering” her in the water.
It’s not everyday you see Hooded Mergansers, let alone mating Hooded Mergansers, so we are extremely fortunate to witness nature at its very best this evening – a magic moment.
Marcy & Ray Stader