Tuesday, May 1, 2018

1 May 2018: Red-necked Grebe!! and Willets!

Several days ago, a Red-necked Grebe was reported near my office. The report wasn't submitted until about 24 hrs after the fact, on a Saturday, so I wasn't at the office. I'd already biked over 20 miles that day with nary a FOGY to be found, and I wasn't keen on another potentially fruitless 18-mile ride on the off chance that the grebe had stuck around for a full day. So I didn't chase it. Yeah, I know... if you're doing a big year, you're supposed to chase EVERYthing... but I wouldn't be a very effective green birder if I were completely exhausted. =) Balance is important, and I was willing to accept that I might not see a Red-necked Grebe here this year - especially because I knew I might have the option of stopping at one of its breeding sites later in the year, so all hope might not be lost.

I would have looked for it, just in case, on Monday if I'd gone in to work then - but I took the day off for birding, and did not go anywhere near the office. BUT someone else checked that day, and the grebe was still there! So I biked over early to check it out before work today.

Before I got there, I was thrilled to see a flock of 15 Willets (#136) flush up from the shoreline!

Last year, only one Willet was ever seen in La Crosse County. It's not flagged as rare in eBird, but a number of local birders went looking for that bird, so I knew it was fairly special (I got to see it, too). A surprise encounter with FIFTEEN today was pretty neat. The light was dim - it was only 6:15am - but I still had fun attempting to photograph them. Plus, that wing pattern is so cool.

Much more drab when on the ground.
Eventually I continued on toward the end of the road where the grebe had been lurking. Meanwhile I was birding, of course, but not super intensively, because the grebe was the goal. But I still encountered five other FOGYs on the way! There was another big migratory push last night, with many new species around. 

Finally I reached the end of the road. A quick scan of the small bay revealed only a Pied-billed Grebe, so I started walking back along the shore on a dirt track. Then, all of a sudden, there was a Red-necked Grebe (#141) right next to me!

New bird for the year, my patches (both 5MR and 7.5MR!), and my county and state lists. Local birds are definitely the best kinds of birds for a self-powered Big Year! Red-necked Grebes are flagged as rare in eBird for La Crosse County; they breed farther north in small numbers, but typically aren't seen here. I guess this bird has been hanging out here because there's still 2 feet of ice on its breeding grounds. 

We'll happily host it for as long as it wants to stay. What a beauty!

Now we're having thunderstorms that are expected to continue overnight. Depending on the exact timing of storms, that could either prevent migration for the night, or potentially create fallout conditions. If the latter, I'll definitely do some birding in the morning! At this rate, #150 is approaching quickly...

1 comment:

  1. What great birds! You are seriously on a roll; I can't wait to see what's next!