When Faulene Main posted a rare Red-necked Grebe while kayaking on Canyon Lake, I knew that was the real deal; she's a good birder. To follow up, she and my birding companion, Jeanne Burns went out kayaking together on Thursday to see if it was still around. Wow! Was it ever! Since I saw no other birding reports for it, I figured the two women reporting the rare grebe were generally unknown to the rest of the birding community. But I knew both of them and was confident if the bird hadn't left, I'd get to see it today.
Usually, I find this bird in winter (and duller winter plumage) way far west at Lake Pleasant. Today was my first available day to search it out for myself - minus the kayak - for only a 40-minute drive from home.
Having not visited Canyon Lake in over a year, I was quickly reminded how much I like the stark beauty of the drive up Apache Trail.
When I arrived at Canyon Lake a bit after 6:30 a.m., I checked the cove where Faulene and Jeanne had kayaked - no birds visible from the bridge. Ah! From the other side of the bridge I spotted the Western Grebes with one dark one among them. Driving across the one-lane bridge, I took the first available pull-off beside the lake from where I continued to bird for a good 45 minutes. (Fishermen in trucks were earlier and taken the other pull offs.)
The birds were quite distant but I felt like I had good advantage in being high above them.
Not necessarily so as it turned out. Below are some of my photos as well as Jeanne's close-ups from her kayak a couple days earlier.
|In its mating plumage, this Red-necked Grebe was a rare gem in the East Valley of Phoenix.|
|Obviously, the bird with the long reddish neck is the rare one that I had never seen in its spring plumage.|
|Red-necked Gebe with Western Grebe|
Since I no longer kayak, I missed photo time like Jeanne experienced a couple days ago:
|Red-necked Grebe (above and below - photos by Jeanne Burns)|
Although the Eared Grebes were closer to me, they generally had their backs to me so photos were simply good enough to validate my sighting.
|Eared Grebe from up on the road, looking down|
Below is Jeanne's eye-popping view of the Eared Grebe from her kayak:
|Eared Grebe-photo by Jeanne Burns|
After watching the grebes for a long time, I continued a short distance farther to the Acacia picnic area (permit required).
|View across Canyon Lake from Acacia Picnic Area|
|View up-lake into the canyon from the beach at Acacia|
Among the 31 species I saw, the gorgeous Red-necked Grebe was my fave. What a great way to start my day!
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View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S28983070