The ice is still thick on the lakes here, and snow is at least a foot deep in the backyard, but some of the early migrant ducks have managed to find open water. A few Common Mergansers and Ring-necked Ducks swam in small pools of ice-melt in the Minnesota River at the MN Valley National Wildlife Refuge. As usual, they stayed as far from shore (and me) as possible.Common Mergansers are large diving ducks that breed in northern forests in North America, Europe, and Asia. Their slender, bright orange bills are notched with serrations to help them grab fish and various invertebrates, so they are sometimes referred to as “sawbills”.
My presence seemed to make the mergansers nervous, and after unsuccessfully trying to hide behind Canada Geese, they took off, running on the water and then flapping strongly and quickly out of sight.
I managed to scare off a few other mergansers while trying to photograph them as well.