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Posts Tagged ‘Podiceps auritus’

Earlier this week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge I captured this image of what I an pretty sure is a Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus). The subject was significantly backlit and is a bit dark, but even the most casual view will note that the bird has no horns. Well, only breeding adults have golden head tufts that someone decided look like horns.

Horned Grebes are diving ducks and most of the time that I see one it is in deep water in the distance. I was fortunate to be at the right place at the right time when this grebe surfaced closer than normally with a small fish in its mouth. I posted this photo to a Facebook forum, but so far the identity of the fish remains a mystery. The best response I received when I asked if anyone knew what kind of fish it was— “a slow one.”

In any case, I really like how the warm orange of the skinny little fish contrasts with the overall bluish tones of the image. Needless to say, the fish was gone a few seconds later.

 

Horned Grebe

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This past weekend I spotted a Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus) while exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I tend to see this little diving waterbird only a few times a year and often it is so far from the shore that I am not able to capture a decent shot.

This grebe was within range and I watched it dive and resurface multiple times, hoping it would turn toward the sun so I could see its amazing looking red eyes trimmed with gold. Eventually my patience was rewarded and it turned in the proper direction.

The second image is merely a closer crop of the first one that gives you a closer look at those fantastic red eyes. Wow!

Horned Grebe

Horned Grebe

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Earlier this year I encountered an unfamiliar bird that turned out to be a Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus). On-line photos showed that the bird has really cool plumage during mating season and I remember hoping that I would see one this spring.

Well, this past Friday I spotted one in the distance in the waters off of Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The light was coming from almost in front of me and the grebe was a long way off, but I did manage to capture the sunlight glistening off of the blonde “horns” of this beautiful bird. I especially like the first shot in which you can see just a bit of the grebe’s red eyes and the feathers really do look like horns.

Horned Grebe

Horned Grebe

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus) that I spotted on Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge has incredible red eyes with a golden ring around the pupil. The beautiful details in the natural world never cease to amaze me, which is why I tend to do most of my shooting with either a telephoto zoom lens or with a macro lens.

When I first spotted this bird, it was swimming in the same direction that I was walking as I followed a path parallel to the water. The grebe would swim a little and then look in my direction for a split second and dive. I would hurry along the path to try to find another opening in the vegetation to reacquire the grebe when it resurfaced. I kept thinking that the bird would swim out into the deeper water away from me, but instead it stayed a consistent distance from the shore and we played our little game for quite a while until the trail turned inland and I lost sight of the little grebe.

Horned Grebe

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Thanks to some helpful folks in the Facebook forum “What’s this bird,” I learned that this little duck-like bird that I spotted on Monday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus). I have seen several other kinds of grebes before, but this was a first-time sighting of this particular species.

When I looked at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology page for this species, I was a little shocked to see how different this bird looks when in breeding plumage. “Breeding adults have black heads with rich golden tufts, black back, and cinnamon neck, breast, and sides.” Wow! That would be quite a sight to see, but, alas, it looks like Horned Grebes do not breed in my area and are only visitors here for the winter.

Horned Grebe

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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