Always Shoot the Loners

And now for edition 2 of … drum roll please.. Dog Show Weekend!  Our boys will be running for the ribbons tomorrow and right now pretty much passed out in bed.  To their credit it has been a pretty demanding day.  Up at 8am, a leisurely stroll outside, breakfast, another saunter loop around the RV at noon, a nap in my lap while we checked out the local wildlife parks, another pre-dinner exploratory trek around the RV, dinner, another long nap, a taunt fest with a campground Cat from the safety of the RV, ANOTHER jaunt around the RV to make sure that damn Cat learned its lesson before calling it a day and curling up in bed next to Mom.  Let’s all hope there are enough hours left in the night to get their legs/lungs sufficiently recovered from such a hard day.

In the meantime, let’s go back in time and visit today’s featured feathered friend.

Horned Grebe found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in November 2017

I’ve been trying my best to bring you fresher posts – well, fresh by my standards.  Today we need to head back a bit further to the fine year of 2017 – when men were men and Covid was only a concept in a C grade horror.  In November that year we found ourselves down at Emiquon to see what the cold winds would bring to the area.  The key to good finds in those flooded wetlands is to look for the loners.  The ones keeping to themselves are usually the rarities that are simply passing through to their final vacation spots.  No time to check out Santa Anna’s leg in Springfield or the pink elephant in Livingston and certainly no time to meet penpals at the local watering hole.  Nope, find a quite location, rest the wings/lungs, replenish the nutrition stores and get back on the road…err wind.   If we are lucky, we just might be standing on the shore with some big glass at that exact moment.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of our little loner Grebe.

Horned Grebe found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in November 2017

Our specimen was at the full reach of The Beast.  Would have been a great time to slap on the tele, but with the cloudy November day the stops loss would have been painful.   Eventually got a few shots in the tin where you could actually make out some of the key features to determine it was a Grebe.  Based on the smaller size, crossed off the Western.  Any additional options would have to wait until I got home plus 2 years and 11 months.

Horned Grebe found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in November 2017

I blame the delay on Linda’s ridiculously long honey-do list hehehe.   Broke open the reference books to finally figure out what this speck on the water was.  Did double check on the Western and sure enough, those are much larger.  It was also evident that this one was in its nonbreeding feathers.  This left the Horned, the Red-Necked and the Eared as possible options.  The red eye on my specimen allowed me to cross off the Red-Necked.  Our mystery Grebe had a well defined separation between the dark cap and the white cheek.  The Eareds have a red eye, but the cap extends down past the eye taking that option off the table – Horned Grebe it is!

Horned Grebe found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in November 2017

All that was left was to get confirmation from Ron which came a couple of days ago.  Our little loner was doing some late migration down from their western Canada breeding grounds the southeastern states.  Emiquon sits right in the middle of the primary migration paths giving us great opportunities to catch the fallouts.  The nonbreeding plumage was a nice addition to my birding list, having tinned the breeding plumage down in Alton back in 2016 (link here).

Oh no, ran through the small number of shots that actually looked like a bird.  Not a big issue, as Cornell has very little in the interesting facts front.  They did twist the dagger by highlighting the fact their chicks will ride atop their parent’s back – the shot that is tops on my list to tin that has managed to completely elude me to this point.

Probably time to join the boys.. to sleep, not the run around the RV part ha!


Leave a reply