Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Another day, another lifer...


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.


Patrick Belardo said...

I think it's a Horned Grebe, but I'm no expert on molting grebes. The reason I think it is a Horned is because Eared Grebe has a lot of black on its neck that I can't see here. There are other features to distinguish the two sch as a head and bill shape, but that's hard to tell from these photos. Also, Eared Grebes are very uncommon in PA.

Mary said...

Delia! I share your joy! And I also share your frustration with the dead battery deal. It happened to me once, so every night, I charge the battery and I'm considering buying a back-up to carry in my handbag. You make me laugh!

dguzman said...

Well, I've heard others who visited the Duck Pond saying "horned" as well. I felt so confident in my ID, and now I'm thinking I was wrong. oh well! Not the first time! Guess I need to edit my post....

I'm thinking of buying another battery online, Mary, and I definitely need to charge it each night.