For the past few years Goosanders have become regular winter visitors to Abington Park Lakes in Northampton. The largest, middle lake is very shallow and provides opportunities for the Goosanders to catch fish with relative ease while offering birders the potential to capture fantastic images. In some winters more than twenty Goosanders have been present. They are a delight to watch and such close views are rarely matched elsewhere.
Pair formation can occur early in the winter with copulation taking place as early as December (for full details see BWP). Displaying males can adopt a partial neck-stretch with head feathers erected as below.
Both sexes engage in pre-copulatory drinking, with heads tilted upwards before the female assumes the full prone posture inviting copulation.
‘Redhead’ Goosanders are either females – this one showing her teeth – or first-winter
males like this one, where the generally duller brown head, indistinct whitish chin and broad blackish lower border to the brown upper neck is a clue to its sex.
Abington Park Lakes have also attracted Red-breasted Merganser and Shag in recent years – not bad for a small urban park habitat!
Many thanks to Keith J Smith, Doug Goddard and Dave Jackson for providing photos of these superb birds.