I saw these two birds in the North Basin yesterday afternoon but held off posting because I couldn’t identify one of them, the small one. Thanks to Audubon’s Emilie Strauss, I can now say the little one is an Eared Grebe. It doesn’t look at all like the showcase Eared Grebes that the Audubon or Cornell bird websites feature — a breeding male with auburn hair upswept in a punk rock look — and that’s why I missed it. This one is a nonbreeding male in winter plumage. It was a challenge to photograph because it surfaced for just a few seconds before diving again, and had that uncanny bird knack of vanishing just as I’d almost got it in focus. But eventually I snapped it. The bird websites say that the Eared Grebe is the most abundant grebe in the world. Here in the North Basin, though, it played a solo role, outstanding for its smallness. Grebes seen more frequently here, like the Clark’s Grebe shown below, outweigh it easily two or three to one.
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