Quietly Looking, Grebes and Loons

Yesterday the air was cool, the sun warm, and there was little wind, so I decided to peddle the bike  down to Watermark Quarries with the idea of enjoying the Loons one more time before they continued their journey north. I found myself feeling very content as I sat quietly on the bank, in the presence of the birds, looking. The Loons, along with a few grebes, and some other suspects, almost seemed to be looking back.

as always click on the image for a better view



Even a Muskrat swam by, Watermark Quarries


Common Loon, Watermark Quarries


Common Loon, Watermark Quarries


Common Loon, Watermark Quarries


Common Loon taking a bath?, Watermark Quarries


Red-necked Grebe, Watermark Quarries


Pied-bill Grebes, Watermark Quarries


Horned Grebe, Watermark Quarries


Horned Grebe, Watermark Quarries


Horned Grebe, Watermark Quarries


Thanks for stopping by.

It Must Be Spring We Saw Turtles

We’ve been spending a fair amount of time the last few days looking for migrating waterfowl. However, a couple of days ago we did see our first warbler of the year, a Yellow-rumped, so it’s been a challenge deciding where to put our effort. All of the sudden it seems a though things are changing really fast.


Yesterday while on Loon patrol along Griggs Reservoir Park , a Bufflehead stayed close to shore and posed as a Song Sparrow sang nearby.

Click on images for a better view.

Bufflehead, Griggs Reservoir 033114

Male Bufflehead and you can actually see it’s eye. Difficult to photograph because of the very white whites and black blacks. Griggs Reservoir

Song Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir, 033114

Song Sparrow along Griggs Reservoir, Certainly not a Prothonotary Warbler but with a song second to none!

Today we visited Watermark and were fortunate to see Red-necked and Horned Grebes along with Coots, Canada Geese, Double Crested Cormorants and Buffleheads. The Grebes were of particular interest as we had hoped to see the Loon that had been reported at this location yesterday. As you may have guessed all the birds were pretty far away when photographed.

Red-necked Grebe, study 2, Watermark, 040114

Red-necked Grebe (non-breeding), Watermark

Red-necked Grebe, Watermark, 040114

Red-necked Grebe (non-breeding), study 2, Watermark

Horned Grebe, Watermark 040114

Horned Grebe, Watermark

Horned Grebe, study 2 Watermark 040114

Horned Grebe, study 2, Watermark

Another stop was Kiwanis Riverway Park where we were excited to see our first turtles of the year on a log sunning themselves. You could hardly blame them as it was sunny with a temperature of about 75 F. While in the same area a Red-shouldered Hawk flew over with a small snake in it’s talons and landed nearby. How often does that happen?

Kiwanis Riverway Park, 040114

A hint of green, Kiwanis Riverway Park

Male Mallard, Kiwanis Riverway Park, 040114

Male Mallard looking quite comfortable, Kiwanis Riverway Park

Red-eared Slider, Kiwanis Riverway Park, 040114

Red-eared Slider, Kiwanis Riverway Park

Painted Turtle, Kiwanis Riverway Park, 040114

Painted Turtle, Kiwanis Riverway Park

Red-shouldered Hawk with snake, Kiwanis Riverway Park, 040114

Red-shouldered Hawk with snake, Kiwanis Riverway Park

Red-shouldered Hawk with snake closeup, Kiwanis Riverway Park, 040114

Close-up of the unfortunate snake.




A Red-necked Grebe Crashes a Goldeneye Mating Dance

Yesterday we decided to try something different; just sit quietly at rivers edge just below Griggs Dam and wait for the birds to come to us. We usually photograph birds as we walk and what ever we happen to see is what we try to capture. Because we’re walking, sometimes relatively long distances, carrying a lot of equipment is usually not part of the plan. Most shots are hand held with maybe a convenient tree used as a brace

So there we sat on three legged collapsible stools and waited. We both had our cameras braced on lightweight tripods fitted with ball heads which allowed them to swivel easily to capture the action. The tripods weren’t heavy enough to fully support our DSLR’s with long telephotos but were light and portable and should provide additional support.

We hoped to accomplish two things; see if waiting quietly in one spot improved our ability to get more candid shots of waterfowl behavior, and secondly see if additional support (even if just a lightweight tripod) improved image sharpness and quality.

The first test shots were taken of a grebe on the other side of the river as, at that point, there was nothing else around. To be honest, since they were just “test shots”, I didn’t take a good look at the bird until writing this blog entry which was after reading Seasons Flow’s latest post. Thanks to this follow Columbus blogger we were able to correctly ID the bird as a Red-necked Grebe, rare for Ohio, and the first my wife and I had ever seen.

Click on the images for a better view.

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Red-necked Grebe, Scioto River just below Griggs Dam

It wasn’t long after we tired of photographing the grebe that a number of Goldeneyes flew in and landed right in front of us but on the other side of the river. What happened next was truly amazing. It was a mating dance of Goldeneyes with lots of movement among the birds. The following stills obviously don’t show the movement so just image a lot of movement between each pic and you’ll kind of get the idea.

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Things started out quietly enough

9a IMG_4770use

But then . . .

8a IMG_4766use

Maybe things are back to normal.

7a IMG_4761use

Maybe not!

6a IMG_4763use

Let’s try something different!

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Then again, I think she noticed me!

4a IMG_4747use

Now what?

3a IMG_4744use

Here we go again!

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Wow that was a lot of work but I think she likes me!

The results of our experiment seem to show that, under the right circumstances, there is an advantage to waiting for the birds to come to you. Secondly there appears to be a definite advantage to using a lightweight tripod as a brace when shooting with a long telephoto lens.

Some other shots taken that day. All at relatively long distances and cropped.


Male Mallard


Ring-necked Duck


Greater Scaup




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