[CT Birds] Merganser vs., eel

Larson Eric eric_r_larson at hotmail.com
Thu Feb 11 21:45:57 EST 2010

2/10/10, 1:30PM, Mystic River, River Road (Groton side),


Made my usual run up River Road in the early afternoon yesterday and as I headed off Gravel Street, I saw a bird on the water waving its head around, snapping its jaws. This time of year I thought it was a mating display.  


But no other birds where there and when I pulled my binoculars out, I saw a female red-breasted Merganser snapping her bill and wiggling her head.  A few seconds later she regurgitated a large eel - still alive and not too happy.  The duck dropped the fish, then dove and brought it back up.  Holding it in her bill, the tail dragging deep in the water, as did its head (I'd guess it was a good foot and a half long or more in length) she shifted her head back and forth but dropped it again.  Diving down, she came up again with the fish wriggling in her mouth.  Finally she got the head in her mouth and gulping, choked it down.  But I had to laugh as I saw the tail of the fish protrude out of her open mouth.


Then she made the same gestures that caught my attention five minutes earlier, throwing her head back while snapping her bill, and then gradually she closed her mouth, shook her head as if to declare her dignity, and paddled off across the river.


How lucky was I to see that?

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