A drake Smew (Mergellus albellus/Nonnetje) with its ‘cracked ice’ appearance is unmistakable. This photo was taken on a grey, cold, and windy day near the IJsselmeer, an important wintering area for this species, close to our capital Amsterdam. The weather doesn’t seem to bother these cute but tough and brave ducks. But for me it is a different story. After a few hours of waiting, lying in an uncomfortable position on a few wooden planks at the shoreline under a camouflage net, every muscle of my body protested (and I did not know I had so many of them).
Smew breeds in the northern taiga (in trees!) of Europe and Asia. The Smew’s bill has a hooked tip and serrated edges (typical for mergansers), which help it catch fish when it dives for them.
* Canon EOS 40D with 500mm/f4 IS and 1.4x; ISO-400, f5.6, 1/640s, +0.7 stop; from beanbag.