Most of you will be more comfortable with the name Common Merganser, but the Brits still like to use Goosander. Whichever one you prefer, the Latin name (odd waterbird, odd waterbird, a bit like a goose) is still Mergus merganser. The European version takes the nominate while the North American race takes M m americanus.

It has become more common in the UK over recent years, but in my experience are usually seen at quite a distance. This immature bird was seen on a small river that flows through a picturesque village in the Peak District National Park, in Derbyshire. It had learned that people feed bread to the ducks and small fish gather beneath the ducks to mop up any crumbs that are missed. Thus it was very approachable.

It spent much of its time in the shadow of the bridge, but came out into the glorious autumnal sunshine for occasional forays.

It is a member of the sawbill family of ducks which contains the mergansers and the “teeth” of the serrated bill assist in gripping prey which consists predominantly of fish. The Hooded Merganser is often referred to as Mergus, but it more correctly belongs in the single species Lophotes genus. The Smew also takes up all the space in its own Mergellus genus. I think most people will take the convenient path and use the colloquial term “sawbills” to encompass them all.

Goosanders are seen on both fresh and salt water, but require open water to feed. Thus they tend towards the coast and larger rivers during icy spells.

Written by Redgannet
Redgannet has been working for over 33 years as a crew member/flight attendant and enjoys the well-ventilated air of the outdoors. The nom de blog, Redgannet, was adopted to add an air of mystery and to make himself more attractive to women. His father first whetted Redguga's appetite for all things natural by buying him his first pair of 7x35s and a copy of Thorburn's Birds. Having no mentor beyond an indulgent parent, he spent the first season hoping for an Egyptian Vulture at the bird table in his English garden. His most memorable birding moment is seeing an Egyptian Vulture with those same binoculars 26 years later. Redgannet is married to Canon, but his heart and half of his house belongs to Helen and their son Joseph. He is looking forward to communicating with people who don't ask if he is searching for the "feathered variety" of bird.