Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mergansers in the surf at Boca Grande Pass

Red-breasted Mergansers (Mergus serrator) feeding in the surf at Boca Grande Pass.

 Boca Grande Pass is the main channel from the Gulf of Mexico into Charlotte Harbor, Florida.  The Pass is between the southern tip of Gasparilla Island and the northern tip of Cayo Costa.  It is also a "hot spot" for tarpon fishing.

 Red-breasted Mergansers are large diving ducks that prefer feeding in salt water.  This group was after small fish very close to shore.

 A group of ten ducks, they appeared to hunt cooperatively at times....but were more successfull as individuals.

 What great swimmers...agile even in very shallow surf.

 A common sight in bays and lagoons, the Red-breasted Merganser shares it's name with two other Mergansers...the Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) and the Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus).


 Of "least concern" on the IACU Red List.

 Duck indentification is always a challenge!

 A few yards further offshore were a pair of mating West Indian Manatees (Trichechus ingunguis).

 Commonly seen on Gasparilla Island are Willets (Tringa semipalmata).  This one seemed quite interested in what the Mergansers were doing.

 Looking across the Pass toward Cayo Costa, we saw tarpon fishermen and a small group of Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus).  There are about 200 living in Charlotte Harbor.

It's always a great outing along Florida's Gulf Coast.  This young Laughing Gull (Larus atricilla) in first winter plumage also enjoyed the breezy and sunny afternoon.


  1. This was a fun visit, stunning birds of a feather, and dolphins.

  2. Steve - the information is overwhelming. I will be sharing with folks in St Pete. and area. I have become fascinated with your area. Several people I know on social media have brought me down for the rays games and tweetup. also to explore and do an eco tour. I am helping with the World's Richest Tarpon Festival and cant wait to explore the area some more. I will be down next week and the week after. Let me know if you are around. See if we can hook up. There is an art festival as part of the tournament...are you showing? CGHI Florida is responsible for my involvement!

    One note on your blog. fascinating information but the background image (wood) prevents me from reading most of the text. You may want to consider changing that to help people read your great content!

    By the way, my camera is always packed!

    Cheers, Rob

  3. Thanks Steve we visited Boca grand today and couldn't identify the ducks , having spent some time on the internet , thankfully we found your awesome blog , thanks for taking the time for such a great blog , they are quite different from the red breasted maganzers my father had seen in the UK on the river tweed in Scotland. Them being larger and red in Scotland feeding on the salmon fry on the river. Thanks again Mark