Saturday, March 28, 2015

Brrrr-ding in the Bluegrass

It's March 28, and officially Spring, right? Then why was it 24 degrees in Louisville when I got up this morning? What happened to the warm breezes we had a few days ago?  I know, in July I'll be complaining about the heat and humidity. Well, it's everyone's prerogative to complain about the weather. But the sun shone brightly, so Dick and I got in the toasty, solar-heated-through-the-window car and drove to Lexington. A birder there had posted on the KY bird list that she saw Common Loons and Eared Grebes in breeding plumage there yesterday! I've seen them in drab winter feathers, but not the brilliant colors of the field guide, and figured this would be a good chance to see them without going to Canada.
The Lexington water company has four reservoirs right in the middle of town. Right in the middle of a pricy neighborhood, to be exact. If I could afford to live there, I could also afford to get a new high-class spotting scope. As we walked across the causeway, one nice little bird stayed close to the road and posed for me. There must have been at least 12 of them on the lake today. We wondered why the migrating water fowl chose these lakes, rather than the big lake at the public park down the road. Better neighbors?
Actually, we saw several different behaviors. This low-to-the-water look must mean something. And the guy at the top of the blog had an itch he just had to scratch!
Then we noticed two Loons swimming beak to beak. They would dip their beaks in the water at the same time, then swim a circle around each other, dive under the water and start again. Hmmm, looks like courtship behavior to me. Cool! I guess it would still take a trip north to see them swimming around with chicks on their backs though.
At first, I couldn't figure out what this bird might be- blotchy brown and white and some odd kind of stripe on the head. Then it dawned on me that this is the Eared Grebe we were looking for! He seems to be still in the process of molting, since the field guide shows much darker body feathers on him. But look at those red eyes! He's definitely getting hormonal!
Since we were nearby, we drove on down to Jacobson Park, which is dominated by the resident geese and Mallards. This group of American Coots clustered together grazing in the grass, while one guy kept guard.
Have any of you other birders noticed more leucistic birds in the past few years? I used to think they were very rare, but now I find them on a regular basis. This little Coot is not supposed to be brown and white. I always thought birds (chickens at least) would peck a different looking bird to death. Is something in the environment doing this?


Anonymous said...

Synchronized swimming is something we learned from nature, watching loons and other birds in courtship. Definitely cool

Grampy said...

Nice captures. I think that is a horned grebe in breeding plumage. Pretty bird regardless.