I saw my first hooded mergansers in early February this year. An hour and a half before sunrise, I just couldn’t sleep so I walked west into the darkness, with no particular destination in mind. At Main St and Broadway, the coffee shops were still closed. Fifteen minutes before sunrise, I finished my coffee and muffin on Cambie and bounced down to False Creek. Rain was in the forecast but there seemed to be a few patches of clear sky. As I walked along the water’s edge, the sun’s rays poked through the clouds, streaking the water with gold and illuminating early morning paddlers and their colourful outrigger canoes. I headed to the pond and was delighted to see a couple of ducks with fancy heads. I’d only seen pictures of them before. Repeatedly, the male spread his wings, smacked the water with them, then ruffled his tail feathers. Occasionally, he tipped his body sideways, exposing his underbelly. I think he was trying to impress the female who floated quietly nearby. I didn’t have a camera, so I simply watched the birds and committed vague images of them to my fuzzy memory.
Three weeks later I returned to the pond with a camera. A small, muddy trail meanders between the woods and the cattails on the south end of the pond. I looked through the cattails at two geese standing on rocks. Behind them, a female hooded merganser was sitting on her nest. Two male hooded mergansers floated motionlessly nearby. The nest seemed to be guarded by the two male hoodies as well as the two geese. The best view of the nest was from the east side of the pond. I crouched there for quite a while to take pictures. The goose guards looked at me. At some point, a third goose swam toward me very quickly. I moved away from the water’s edge. It stared at me fiercely for a few moments. Then it made a big poo cloud in the water and swam away.
The nest and the hoodies were gone when I returned a week later. I wonder what happened to them.