Daily Archives: March 3, 2018

Grebes dancing on water

Western Grebes, Lake Hodges, San Diego CA

On the Monday after the San Diego Birding Festival, Robert Wilson and I made the drive up I15 to Lake Hodges to see the large numbers of Western and Clark’s Grebes that are there right now. I assume they nest there, but if they do, we did not see any nests…we were maybe in the wrong area of the shore. We did see lots of Grebes…way more Western than Clarks…and none close to shore. Robert was hoping to see the Grebes doing their mating dance on the surface of the water…something I had never seen either. Dance might not be the right word. Having at last seen it at Lake Hodges, it is more like water skiing without a boat, or pairs figure skating without ice, or some as yet unnamed Olympic event for Grebe couples. You hear the noise first, even from a third of a mile across the lake where I was standing…splashing water and slapping grebe feet…and if you can get orientated you see the birds up and running across the water, straight ahead at a pretty unbelievable pace, leaving a long wake like a white line behind. It is over in less than 20 seconds. As I say, the birds pictured here were at least a third of a mile away, so far away that I could not see that it was two birds in tandem with my naked eye…that was hard to see until I cropped way in on the 600mm photographs. I still can not tell if these are Western or Clark’s Grebes for certain…though they look more like Western…they were simply too far away. The shots are not what I hoped for. Too much air between me and the birds for really sharp photos…but the experience was one I would not have wanted to miss, and the photos at least reinforce the memory. I have seen the Grebes’ mating dance, and it was indeed wonderful! Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/640th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Polarr and heavily cropped. Assembled in FrameMagic.