Sunday, April 29, 2012

April Showers Bring... Grebes!

The ice came off Maxwell Lake around midweek, which is a little later than average. Maxwell is usually ice-free before other area lakes, so early migrating waterfowl always find it an attractive stopover. Friday evening April 27 was a special event - 3 grebe species were on the lake. There was a group of 25 red-necked grebes, all tucked in and resting after probably a long flight. Scattered around in singles were 4 horned grebes. These birds were all diving for dinner. Once came up with a large leech that it proceeded to batter and toss for several minutes before it went down the hatch. The last grebe was a single bird that rarely shows up in this area - a pied-billed grebe. It was close to the red-necked grebes, which made me think it might have been migrating with them. I think this is only the 3rd record of pied-billed grebe that I have on Maxwell Lake in 25 years.

Unfortunately I didn't have a camera with me. I went back the next day and there were just 2 red-necked and 1 horned remaining. The first photo is of the two red-necked grebes. Amazingly, the horned grebe had another leech - what are the chances of seeing that on 2 consecutive days? This time I got a grainy photo from long distance. You can clearly see the leech curled in a reverse J dangling from the bird's bill.

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