Thursday, March 19, 2009

Non-horned grebes and white-throated loons

It's spring. Really. That must mean it's that wonderful time of year for transitional grebe plumages!

Two horned grebes were along the South Pier today. This one was feeding along the edge of the pier, bobbed up right beside me and panicked off to a safer distance. It's interesting how as it really digs for speed its wings are so spread that the tertials aren't connecting the wings to the body.

It settled down at a nice distance, still pretty much in full winter plumage:

The other bird was much farther along in its moult, farther than I expected it to be for mid-March and appears to have passed the most confusing period plumage-wise (though both birds are close enough to easily see the bill shape).

A red-throated loon was diving off the end of the pier out in the murky water where the river empties into the lake. A decent breeze and 3-4 foot waves did not make it easier to grab photos. I'd really like to see an actual red-throated bird. I can't tell if I can imagine a single red feather coming in on the mid-throat at the edge of the bill shadow or it's just an artifact of lighting. Sibley says that they attain breeding plumage sometime in April so hopefully I can find an advanced one in a couple weeks.

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