Harrisonburg, VA 4/4/14

All photos are Marshall Faintich


I hadn't planned on going birding today. The forecast was for rain all day, but the front slowed, and the rain isn't expected until late this afternoon or evening. With reports (thank you Diane H. and Diane L.) of Horned Grebes in breeding plumage at Lake Shenandoah in Harrisonburg, Virginia, I decide to make another trip to the northwest. I had been trying unsuccessfully to see and photograph Red-necked Grebes in breeding plumage for the past month, and Horned Grebes in breeding plumage for more than a year.

When I arrived at Lake Shenandoah, I saw Mallards, American Coots, a Ruddy Duck in partial breeding plumage, and a Pied-billed Grebe. Far away near the dam, I could see more grebes, but the sun was in my eyes and the birds were too far away for good photos. Boaters were moving about, causing the waterfowl to constantly change locations in the lake. The only way to get a good photo was to hike around the lake.


Mallards


Ruddy Duck


Pied-billed Grebe

When I got about haalf way to the dam, I could see at least three Red-necked Grebes. Two of them only had partial breeding plumage, and of course, the one that was really far away had full breeding plumage.


Red-necked Grebes


Red-necked Grebes


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe

As I turned the corner past the dam, and started my return hike along the wooded path, the two Red-necked Grebes in partial breeding plumage stayed close to where I was for a few good photos, but I couldn't find the third one.


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe

A small flock of Canada Geese landed in the lake and headed for the dam, and the Red-necked Grebe in breeding plumage popped up and headed toward the sun with the geese. I was able to get a few photos before it dove again, and I didn't feel like back-tracking to try to re-locate it.


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe

I completed the circuit around the lake, happy to have finally gotten a few photos of a Red-necked Grebe in breeding plumage, but was a bit disappointed of not seeing a Horned Grebe. As I drove from the parking lot, I decide to take a quick look at nearby Lake Campbell, but didn't expect to see very much there. As I drove along the lake all I could see were some Canada Geese and the resident Mute Swans. I pulled into the drive to turn around and head home, when I saw to smaller birds in the lake. I couldn't tell what they were looking through my car's windshield, so I parked in the tow-away area, got out of the car, and when I lifted my camera for a better look, I saw a Horned Grebe in breeding plumage!

I decided to leave my car in the tow-away area for just a short walk down to the lake for some photos. When I got close enough to start taking photos, I saw that the other bird was a Red-necked Grebe in breeding plumage!


Red-necked and Horned Grebes

The Red-necked Grebe took off as I got closer, but the Horned Grebe stayed in the same area of the lake. I chose to stay where I was and not try to chase the Red-necked. After a few good photos, I went back to my car before anyone got upset about my parking there.


Red-necked Grebe


Horned Grebe


Horned Grebe


Horned Grebe


Horned Grebe


Horned Grebe


Horned Grebe


Horned Grebe

On my way out of Harrisonburg, I stopped at the hospital and drove around to find to small lake where local birders had reported seeing some good birds. There was a male Bufflehead, a female Mallard, some Canada Geese, and a White-winged Scoter.


White-winged Scoter


White-winged Scoter


White-winged Scoter



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