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I’m all Ears

January 14, 2008

I was feeling down. The Eared Grebes that had four times previously eluded me were not seen by a group who had spent the previous morning at Jordan Lake. On the Carolina Birds listserve, someone there even noted the fact that after intense scoping at Ebeneezer Point, where the birds had been reliably seen, there was no sign of Eared Grebes. I was afraid that this bird, crucial to any NC Big Year attempt, was gone and I’d have to wait for another to show up somewhere else in the state later on. It wasn’t enough to completely call off my planned excursion Jordan Lake, after all, if the birds could hide from me four times before, it’s logical that it could have been hiding the day before. Right? Right?

It was cold and windy when I got out of my car and on my first go around the lake, there wasn’t much even on the lake with the exception of Bonaparte’s and Ring-billed Gulls. Even the large flocks of cormorants I had seen the week before had taken off to another cove. It wasn’t until I turned my scope on the final cove that I noticed two small dark grebes actively feeding along with a half dozen cormorants. I zoomed in and noted the small bill, the squarish head, and on one, even the yellow eye. Hallmarks of classic Eared Grebes. I watched them for several minutes between dives and managed to take this awful (and I mean real sh*t) photo to the right. You can’t see much but you should be able to see the peaked head and small bill. When a boat sped past scattering the birds I was disappointed I couldn’t try for a better shot, but relieved I had finally found my target birds.

With the morning still young, I hit one more lake overlook where I found both Pied-billed and Horned Grebes. This gave me an idea. One quick stop at Lake Crabtree for the still-present Red-necked Grebe and I had four grebe day. Not bad at all, but if I could just get a Western…

  1. January 14, 2008 7:11 pm

    It’s been brought to my attention that the photo of the grebe in the post actually looks a bit like a Pied-billed Grebe.

    Admitted. The photo is absolutely, positively terrible and certainly wouldn’t pass muster with any local rarity committee, let alone a state one. But rest assured the quality of the photo is not related to the quality of the sighting, which was much better and certainly confirmed that the bird in question was an Eared Grebe.

    I just put the photo up so that you readers at least would know I saw a grebe and not a storm-petrel or a gnatcatcher or a woodpecker or anything. It’s not meant to be conclusive.

    That is all.

  2. Larry permalink
    January 14, 2008 7:12 pm

    I use photos like that to help me with identifications some times as I’m still fairly new to birding.

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