Bear River Grebes

My all-time favorite shots at Bear River may be pictures of Avocet chicks, but a close second would have to be pictures of Grebe chicks riding on their parent’s back.  We didn’t see any of those on this trip, either, though we saw grebes throughout the refuge. 

Bear River is the first place I ever saw a Clark’s Grebe and didn’t realize it wasn’t a Western Grebe until I put the shots up on my computer screen. Now, though the hairline is a distinctive difference; the dark cap usually doesn’t surround the eye.  In addition, the orange beak is quite different from the Western Grebe’s yellow beak.

Clark’s Grebe

Though they look remarkably similar in the wild, seeing them posted together like this helps me to clearly distinguish the two.

Western Grebe

Of course, once you think you’ve got the difference mastered you see one like this that seems like a hybrid Western/Clark’s, which I’ve never seen before but does seem to exist.

Hybrid Western/Clark’s Grebe?

Another unexpected sighting was this Eared Grebe not yet in full breeding plumage, a first for me at Bear River.

Eared Grebe in transitional plumage

Luckily we were too busy just taking shots of the many birds we did see to be disappointed by the birds we didn’t see. 

If I had driven 600+ miles to just see Avocet or Grebe chicks I would have been depressed by our trip, but, since I don’t chase particular birds and visit places that make me feel alive, I always end up enjoying the places I visit — unless there are too many mosquitoes visiting at the same time.

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