The big grebes were out in numbers earlier this year and then disappeared for the summer. Now some solo members of the species, one of each, are checking out current conditions on the North Basin. Are these scouts for the flock, or females that couldn’t breed, or males that finished breeding early, or pioneers? They cruised the water, or rested quietly, sometimes less than ten yards from one another, without taking notice or interacting. A much smaller grebe, the Pied-billed, was also present, and likewise paid no attention to the others, just floating quietly.
The birds in the video show the marks that distinguish them. The Western has its black cap pulled down over its eyes, and its beak is a muddy yellow-gray. The Clark’s wears its black cap above the eye and its beak is a bright clear yellow from the side.
A few days later I didn’t see the Western again, but I saw what looked like a paired pair of Clark’s. They came together nicely for a portrait: