There are at least eight, perhaps ten, common mergansers on the Little River in
Blount County. Here are today's sequence of events:
At 2:00 my wife and I saw three mergansers (one male and two female/immatures)
at the spot as noted in the previous report. We then decided to survey as much
of the rest of the river as possible. We traveled upstream to Townsend, then
checked the Webb Road bridge area, then traveled to Metcalf Bottoms. We saw no
additional mergansers. However, on the return trip, at 3:30 we saw what was
originally believed to be a solitary male on a log 0.3 miles upstream from Camp
Wesley Woods. Wondering if this might be the same male that was seen earlier,
we proceeded to the original sighting location and found the original three
birds still present. The male and one of the female/immature birds flushed
upstream while we were watching. We then returned upstream to see if any
additional birds were present with the "solitary" male. We found a female that
was hidden on the back side of the log. (There was no convenient place to pull
off here.) We then went back downstream, thinking that our day was finished.
We found the remaining female/immature that hadn't flushed at the original
site. Then, about 0.1 miles further downstream, we found two males and three
females/immatures. The birds flushed and went upstream to the original site.
Faye Sykes arrived at about this time. We went to the original site and
counted five birds again--two males and three females/immatures. I don't know
if the previously remaining female/immature was one of these or not, but I am
certain that it was a different bird from the subsequent three
females/immatures. I am not certain, however, whether the two that flushed
earlier from the original site might be part of the five found later. They had
flushed upstream, and the five were downstream. However, the areas are close
enough that I can't be certain that they were separate birds.
In the last group of five, one of the males was continually driving away the
other male. I was guessing that this was territorial behavior, perhaps
establishing rights to a female, but this is just a guess.
In summary, I know that there were at least eight common mergansers--three
males and five females/immatures. In a very brief period of time in an almost
direct drive, we saw a pair 0.3 miles upstream from Camp Wesley Woods, one
female/immature 1.8 miles downstream from Camp Wesley Woods, then two males and
three females/immatures another 0.1 miles or so downstream from that location.
It is not certain whether the pair that flushed from the original site are part
of the last five seen or not, but, if they were not, this would make a total of
Randy WinsteadMaryville, Blount County