Charlottesville, Virginia 3/14/14

All photos are Marshall Faintich

Red-necked Grebes are rare south of New York here in the eastern United States, but the frozen Great Lakes and very cold weather elsewhere to the north this winter have forced this species southward, and I have seen them in Virginia and Delaware during the past two months. However, they are only in colorful breeding plumage between February and August, and all the ones I have seen have been either first winter birds or non-breeding plumage adults. I did see one in apparent breeding plumage a few days ago at Lake Shenandoah, but it was sleeping with its head tucked in.

Pairs of Red-necked Grebes in near breeding plumage have been reported at both Chris Greene Lake and Lake Hollymead in the Charlottesville area. Walt Childs and I headed there this morning to take a look.

On the way there, we stopped on route 250 between route 151 and Crozet where a large flock of Wild Turkeys has been seen for the past month or so. A male turkey was displaying for the females, and I was able to get a few photos from behind him before I was noticed and the flock flew to another field.


Male Wild Turkey


Male Wild Turkey

We saw a small group of ducks and geese at Chris Greene Lake. There was one Red-necked Grebe there, but it was just beginning to get its breeding plumage.


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe

At one point, the grebe flared its tail feathers, but it looked like a leg and a foot when I was there.


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe

When we got to Lake Hollymead, we saw a female Canvasback, a Mallard, some Canada Geese, and a pair of Red-necked Grebes. One of the grebes was almost in full breeding plumage, and the other looked like a first winter bird.


Female Canvasback


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe

The younger Red-necked Grebe caught a rather large fish, and kept trying to reposition it so that the fish could be swallowed. The grebe finally gave up and let the adult grebe take it, and after a few adjustments, the whole fish was swallowed.


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe

On the way home, we stopped at Beaver Creek Reservoir and saw only Canada Geese, and then at Old Trail where a few ducks, including a couple of Long-tailed, were swimming in the pond near the golf course. We also stopped at the Rockfish Valley Trail that was very quiet, except for a Great Blue Heron, Red-tailed Hawk, and a "gray ghost" Northern Harrier.


Long-tailed Duck



E-mail comments on this report


Return to blog page home