I'm sure many of you are aware of the breeding Common Mergansers in the Great
Smoky Mountains National Park, Greenbrier section. As a brief update, the
female is still around, but no ducklings yet. However, upon seeing her again
today, 1 mile downstream from one of her favorite haunts, I had the occasion to
speak with a neighbor who saw them last year (2015)!!
So here's the brief tale and realization of 2015.
Today, May 2, 2016 my neighbor here in Emerts Cove, Andrea Wilson, notified me
of the female Common Merganser on the river next to her property. Of course,
you've already seen the photos on Facebook. I walked over there, less than 100
yards away from my home, and there swam the female Common Merganser, first time
I have seen her outside of the park (others have). BUT HERE IS THE BIG NEWS. As
we were watching the merganser, I asked Andrea if this was the "merganser"
(species) she told me about and observed last year and her response was
POSITIVE!. She saw this same species (probably same bird) with ducklings last
year (2015)!!! This supports Roger Trentham's (Sevier Countian) claim as well
that he saw the pair of Common Mergansers in Greenbrier last year (2015) in
April. This is really BIG as it means that this years pair are likely return
birds and have some experience in breeding, nest selection, survival, etc. So
not only are we doing a better job of documenting these birds this year, I
think I can riskily surmise that TENNESSEE now has the first documented
breeding pair of COMMON MERGANSERS since 1899, yes, 1899 (this egg collection
form Smith County wasn't discovered until 1988 by a museum curator). I say
documented because I do think that they bred in Tennessee more widely than
Smith County and probably into the 20th century.
It's too bad we didn't get any photos last year; somehow 2015's success was
under my and everyone else's radar! But Andrea and Roger are to be given
credit, they did try to notify me last year, albeit with little information to
go on. Naturally I don't remember much about last year, except thinking of
Hooded Mergansers. Live and learn. Here's another photo of this gorgeous pair,
although the male is long gone (last seen April 3), off molting somewhere. Just
waiting for the ducklings to appear now, which I gauge to be any day now. I
still think it will be this week, but I could be wrong. It would be nice to
have as many eyes out there as possible. From Hwy 321 bridge south into the
Greenbrier section of the park for the first .4 mile is the target area, but
anywhere along the river down to Copeland Creek in Pittman Center is known to
harbor these birds, female only now. I also think the nest is in the park.
I am continually working on a report of this years activity and will share with
anyone who wishes once this season's activities are concluded.
Pittman Center, TN
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