Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Lifer Grebes in the Park

As promised, some more photos from Sunday's outing to Carburn Park.  My main motivation for picking this destination was the reports of Red-necked Grebes on the Bow River at this spot.  With some glorious spring sunshine I spent about half an hour exploring the brush along the east bank of the river.  There were many of "the usual suspects" including Black-capped Chickadees looking for handouts, Northern Flicker chasing each other around a tree trunk, and a friendly White-breasted Nuthatch (first of the year, surprisingly enough).  Watching over all of this, way, way up in the blue, was a Bald Eagle.
Bald Eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus 
Eventually I headed down to the Eric Harvie Bridge, which links the park to the Southland dog park.  I wasn't anticipating finding much here, because of all the dogs swimming in this section of the river.  To my surprise though this Horned Grebe was hunting right underneath the bridge.
Horned Grebe, Podiceps auritus
Although the water was a little murky with the spring runoff, the grebe could be seen paddling around under the water with those big lobed toes.  Apparently there was something grebe friendly about this spot in the river, where the water slows down and the channel widens before splitting around an island.  Upstream of the bridge was this scene...
One of these Grebes is not like the others
All of these are Red-necked Grebes except for the Horned Grebe front and centre.  There was an angler on the bank just 20 or 30 yards from these snoozing birds so I felt comfortable walking up and snapping a few closer shots and, although the sun was on exactly the wrong side of the river, I managed to get a half decent picture of the namesake field mark and the nice clean white cheeks.
Red-necked Grebes, Podiceps grisegena
A few minutes later I was heading back to the car, via a brief encounter with the previously blogged Yellow-rumped Warbler.  Two life birds, two more first of year, and I was sweating in shorts and a T-shirt - finally spring birding in spring weather!

1 comment:

  1. We also saw both of the grebe species there on the weekend. They aren't usually seen on the river, but most of the ponds in our area are still frozen. We were lucky enough to see both species flying as well (spooked by a steady stream of drift boats). They are rarely seen in flight since they migrate at night and stay on or under the water by day.