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.|
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...