Dateline – May 19, 2020 – Carrollton, Texas

This is an observation I feel fortunate to have made. Here’s the story… I was out running an errand at a local business park. Like so many of these types of locales, this one had a system of water features intermixed with the office buildings and warehouses.

After arriving at my destination, I found a nice parking space close to one of the larger lakes in the complex. As I exited the car, a lone duck almost 200 yards out caught my eye.

I was very close to dismissing the solo bird as something common and unnoteworthy, when that little voice in my head encouraged me to take another look. There was something unusual about this duck, though at this distance it was difficult to pinpoint exactly what it was.

The super-telephoto lens on my trusty Canon SX70 told the story. Zooming in on the pictures revealed this bird to be a relative rarity in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex—especially outside of winter.

The female Red-breasted Merganser at distance

What we have here is a female Red-breasted Merganser. A slightly odd looking duck that is either running a little behind on its spring migration or sitting this one out. Ordinarily, Red-breasted Mergansers would only find themselves in the Metroplex during their spring and fall migrations between the coast and the far northern reaches of the continent.

Zoomed in
The merganser’s signature thin red bill and spiky crest are readily apparent
Flapping her wings
The Lucky Look

I took a number of pictures, but the distances were great and the light was fading fast. I managed to get a little closer by making the long trek to the far side of the lake. But by then the sun was setting low in the sky, silhouetting the merganser in back-light.

Red-breasted Mergansers are thought to be the fastest flying ducks.
Airspeed reportedly tops out at around 100 mph
I’m not sure why this merganser is late to migrate. I saw no sign of illness or injury
I managed to get a little closer, but by the time I did the duck was severely back-lit
One last look

Over the years I have found business parks to provide prime urban wildlife ecosystems. Many animals are able to take advantage of the great habitats provided by these quintessential urban areas. This observation is just another case in point. I’m glad I took the time to have a second look.

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