Grebe Gets Mystery Wiggler

This Horned Grebe on the north side of the park snagged what looks like a small eel. Or maybe a water snake? Lamprey? I’ve searched the web and am no wiser. Fishers have taken Monkeyface Eel and Wolf Eel in the Bay, with adults weighing several pounds, but it’s not at all clear that bird-size juveniles of these species could be found in mud flats around here. Water snake seems quite unlikely; there is an introduced “Water Snake” rarely seen in California, but it stays near the water’s edge, not deep in it where a diving grebe might find it. Lampreys have that shape, but while young they inhabit fresh water. So what was wriggling and writhing in this bird’s beak, and ended up in its gullet soon thereafter, remains a bit of a puzzle.

Horned Grebe with unidentified slinky prey

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