THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED DUE TO BAD ID SKILLS!
Ah, the joys of being a beginning birder; every day can present a new bird to add to the life list, simply because the lifelist is so short!
I'd read on the listserv that there might be an eared or a horned grebe at the Duck Pond north of campus, so I went with camera and binocs to check it out last evening after work. Sure enough, the grebe was there! Now to get a photograph. Mind you, this is hand-held scoping through my binoculars, late in the afternoon, so don't expect Lillian-Stokes-like sharpness (as if!):
Those were the only times the grebe raised his head; the rest of the time, he looked like this:
You should've seen it: he paddled all over the pond with his head tucked down like that, daring me to get a good look at him, for the better part of an hour. It was like watching a half-way submerged submarine on maneuvers. Those first two images were the only looks I got at the head, bill, and neck. After consulting Bill Thompson III's Identify Yourself and my Stokes field guide, I decided on eared grebe. However, later, I found out this was unlikely, because eareds hang around out west; the entire local listserv says horned, and comments to this post say horned, so horned it is.
I spent over an hour there with the mallards, coots, Canada geese, and my old friend the ring-necked duck; this time I got some photos of him, too!
I made one last attempt at the horned grebe, on max-zoom. Darned if that little guy didn't keep his head down, stubborn as all get-out:
I've discovered that when the battery is low on this camera, the first thing to go is the autofocus. When that happens, there's nothing to be done; there is no manual focus on it. So--someday when I have a super-fancy, high-dollar camera with five battery backups, this won't be a problem. For now, we have some blurry photos to document this lifer. Better than a kick in the rump, I guess.
On my way out of the duck pond area, I FINALLY saw another lifer I'd been waiting for: an Eastern phoebe! By this point, the LCD display on the camera wouldn't even come on, so I didn't get photos of the phoebe, but I did hear the distinctive call and saw that pointy little beak from about 10 feet away. Another two-lifer day! What a whirlwind life I lead!
I leave you with this shot of one of the Duck Pond's other inhabitants:
I did see a couple of these big guys roaming outside of their giant enclosure a few days ago; two of them were lolled on the driveway of the housing there. It was pretty neat.