Grebes, grebes, and more grebes

Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to see a wide variety of birds, particularly grebes. It’s hard to believe that less than five years ago I would have had no idea what a grebe was if someone had asked me if I had seen one. It was only last year that I learned the difference between these Western Grebes

ParWstrnGrebe

and these Clark’s Grebes.

PrClarkGrebe

Before that I would have identified both species as Western Grebes and might well have misidentified them if I’d somehow gotten a shot of a Clark’s Grebe, though I find it relatively easy to tell the difference between them now.

I’ve also learned to recognize the distinctive Eared Grebe in the last two years.

SngleEaredGrb

And, of course, the first grebe I learned was the Pied Grebe

TulePiedGrb

because it’s commonly found on local lakes. I’m also fond of photographing Horned Grebes, though I ‘ve never seen them at Tule.

This background made it relatively to recognize this as a Grebe of some kind,

ImmtrEaredGrebe

but I really had no idea what kind it was when I first saw it. I just wanted to get a shot of it so I could identify it later. It seemed too large for a Pied Grebe, too small for a Western Grebe, but I didn’t recognize it as an Eared Grebe until I later noticed similar birds definitely swimming with Eared Grebes.

ErdGrebeWthJvnile

I’m far from an expert birder, but I’m amazed when I reflect on how much I’ve learned in the last five years and how many new places I’ve discovered while birding.

What do you think?