Goosander Mergus merganser
(aka Common Merganser
Male Goosander, Blackford Pond, Edinburgh, Scotland, January 2006 - click for larger image Scotland

The Goosander is distributed across the temperate and sub-arctic zones of the northern hemisphere. It tends to breed further north and migrate southwards in the winter but some populations, such as the British one, are largely sedentary.

Male Goosander, Blackford Pond, Edinburgh, Scotland, January 2006 - click for larger image They tend to be found in the upper reaches of rivers and on large inland lakes with plenty of trees in which to nest during the breeding season but congregate in flocks during the winter and these can be at or near the coast.

The male is mainly white and this can have a pinkish tinge in winter and early spring. Its head looks black at a distance but is in fact a dark glossy green and it has a mane-like crest. The bill is long, narrow and red with a black strip along the top. It is also serrated to grip slippery fish and this gives rise to the designation of "sawbill".

Female Goosander, River Tweed, The Borders, Scotland, September 2005 - click for larger image The female, seen here in photos 3 and 4, has a greyish body and a reddish brown head and upper neck with a white chin. Note the sharp border between the brown upper neck and the white lower neck which distinguishes the female Goosander from the female Red-breasted Merganser.

Following the breeding season the male Goosander moults and looks very similar to the female during this process.

Female Goosander, River Tweed, The Borders, Scotland, September 2005 - click for larger image It feeds primarily on fish obtained by diving from the surface using its legs for propulsion. It normally returns to the surface to eat its prey clasping the fish round the middle using its serrated bill then gradually moves the fish so that it can swallow it head first as can be seen in the sequence from photo 6 onwards.
Female-plumaged Goosander, Tyninghame, East Lothian, Scotland, September 2005 - click for larger image
Male Goosander, Blackford Pond, Edinburgh, Scotland, January 2006 - click for larger image
Male Goosander, Blackford Pond, Edinburgh, Scotland, January 2006 - click for larger image
Male Goosander, Blackford Pond, Edinburgh, Scotland, January 2006 - click for larger image
Male Goosander, Blackford Pond, Edinburgh, Scotland, January 2006 - click for larger image
Male Goosander, Blackford Pond, Edinburgh, Scotland, January 2006 - click for larger image
Male Goosander, Blackford Pond, Edinburgh, Scotland, January 2006 - click for larger image
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