Monday, April 20, 2015

Laguna Lake April, 19, 2015

Laguna Lake Park - On silent wings a vortex of Turkey Vultures soared overhead, riding the thermals; with their acute sense of smell they locate their next meal - they are nature's clean-up crew.  I headed directly to the lake.  The water appeared down, but not drastically low.  The above photo shows about 1/3 of the lake.

As I pulled into a parking space, my eyes were directed to a Greater White-fronted Goose, accompanied by two Snow Geese, marching across the road to the picnic tables; hoping (if a bird can hope) for a handout. 

From a dense cluster of willows sang Song Sparrow, Wilson's Warbler, and Common Yellowthroat - a most delightful serenade. I walked down the road for a wider view of the lake, to be more precise, a view of the lake bed - not a pleasant sight; a large portion of the lake had evaporated, a stark example of our on-going drought.  

On the far side a small flock of migratory water fowl lingered, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, Ruddy Duck.  Feeding in the muck a flock of Western and Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover, and two Killdeer. As the lake continues to shrink, and the water is confined to a smaller and smaller area, the birds will be feeding in a toxic soup.

On a more pleasant note, I was returning to my car when a Red-tailed Hawk swooped in, grabbed a Coot and flew into the trees.  If I had blinked, I would have missed the action.

Could not leave the park without visiting the horses grazing in the open space.  There were 17 females, 5 adorable colts and one very lucky white stallion.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Pied-billed Grebe - Cloisters Pond - Morro Bay

 The Pied-billed Grebe - Podilymbus podiceps - (Photo by Mike Baird) is the most widespread Grebe in the New World, nesting from Southern Canada to Argentina.  There is barely a pond, lake, marsh, bay, estuary, or marina that does not have a pair of these stout-billed absolutely adorable divers.  Photo shows the Grebe in breeding plumage.  Most distinguishing marks are white eye ring, and a white bill with a black ring.
 The Pied-billed Grebe forages by diving from the surface; swimming under water propelled by the feet.  Diet consists of fish, and all types of aquatic life.  The above photo was taken mid March; The Grebe is clad in winter plumage.  Perhaps the little darling is a late bloomer.
A few days ago, at Cloisters Pond, noticed a nest in the reeds with a Pied-billed Grebe sitting on it.  The nest built by both sexes, consists of a dense mat of reeds and plant material and is usually situated so that it can be approached under water.  While I was watching the nest another Pied-billed Grebe appeared a few yards out from the nest.  Like magic it disappeared into the water.  A few moments later a little head popped up at the rear of the nest sitting Grebe.  The sitting Grebe moved off the nest into the water and the new sitter slowly and gently settled itself on to the nest.  Photo is of the second sitter settling down on the nest.   The expanded image shows the white eye ring.

Today, I checked on the nesting Grebes.  One Pied-billed Grebe in the water and none on the wet and muddy nest.  To be honest I felt sad, but I am hopeful the potential parents have constructed a new nest in a better location, and within a few weeks adorable young Grebes will be seen floating on Cloisters Pond.
Young Pied-billed Grebe at Cloisters Pond by Mike Baird.  A few seconds before the photo was taken, a gull had grabbed on to the Grebe, but this little defenseless Grebe managed to escape.
 You may find this video of a baby Grebe of interest.