The Goosander is an interesting “saw-billed” Duck that is found on the fast moorland rivers of my county, Devon (UK). They are a very wary and shy bird and if they catch sight of you they will depart immediately.
Historically this species has been persecuted and they need to be wary for a good reason. The very rivers that they prefer are also the domain of Trout and Salmon and the opportunity for conflict is obvious. It’s even possible to obtain a license to cull them which in my opinion is an absolute outrage.
They spend the daytime feeding on the rivers and then in the late afternoon and at dusk they fly in to lakes and reservoirs where they collectively roost in safety, departing again at dawn back to the rivers. As if that wasn’t interesting enough the entire population of European males migrate to gather in Norwegian Fiords in the middle of summer.
There, they undergo a moult before returning back to their females in late October and November. They take no part in the rearing of young leaving this entirely to the females. Whenever I am lucky enough to see them I am reminded of their true wildness and migratory habits. They are also voracious predatory birds and will feed on small birds that they can grab. I was very fortunate to see a female (see above) actually make an attempt to catch a Pied Wagtail and even luckier to get a photograph. On another occasion whilst I sat in my riverside hide photographing Dippers, a female made her way to the weir in front of me and proceeded to dive for Lamprey, repeatedly being successful. I was only a matter of feet from her and it remains one of my best ever wildlife encounters and observations.