Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ambiguous Grebe is apparently contagious.

It's that time of year.  The vultures are flying.  The blackbirds have made any attempts at shrike surveys impossible.  And the grebes are molting.  Some of the Horned Grebes are pretty much still in full winter plumage.
But very soon there will be plenty of muddy-faced birds that people will try to turn into Eared Grebes.  Look at the bills.  Horned has a fairly thick bill that tapers evenly at the tip (and that tip at close range is pale).  Eared's is much thinner with an upturn and is black its entire length.

Anyway, this swan threw me for a second.  It was just too cold to stand at Tiscornia and so I pulled up to the boat launch at North Lake at Grand Mere.  It has a plain black bill without a yellow pip but with a (fairly prominent at some sun angles) salmon gape line.  A trumpeter, right?
 It just didn't look right however and I actually pulled out Sibley to confirm I was remembering the facial feathering correctly.  In the above pic the interface between the bill and the feathering takes an abrupt downward turn while in the below pic the forehead is fairly curved.
 In Trumpeter the bill is longer and more sloped, the bill interface is angled smoothly rather than bending down, and the forehead is quite pointed.  This is a Tundra Swan that lacks the yellow bill pip.  It still has some grayish feathers in the wing coverts and is likely a first spring bird.  Trumpeter is also very similar in size to Mutes, this bird was a size smaller.

No such identification problems with male wood ducks.
 Twenty-five degree air above water in the 30's did not make for great photo conditions, there was a lot of heat shimmer even at close range.

Some flyby mergs in New Buffalo.

Finally a Red-shouldered that perched nicely along US-12.  Somehow it was well into fall before I found one last year.

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