Friday, December 16, 2011

Little Grebe

Last Tuesday saw me visiting Oita River in Kaku area looking for Baikal Teals, which I found at least 3 individuals (1 male and 2 females) last winter. To my surprise, the river was almost empty, another major disappointment for this winter. Only a few small flocks of Mallards and Common Teals flushed up from the river banks as I arrived. I set up my hide and waited in hope of something to show up. In fact, I was waiting in vain. No duck came back to the area where I set up my hide. A group of 1 male and 2 female Common Teals and at least 2 pairs of Little Grebes (Tachybaptus ruficollis poggei) were all that I found and photographed. At least, I could get some better shots of the grebes.

Non-breeding Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis poggei)
Little Grebe seems to be abundant in this area of the river. I hardly see any of them near the river mouth where they are replaced by the much larger Great Crested Grebes. Here in Kaku, they scatter in every 100 metres along the river. I've never come here in spring or summer but I believe that they also breed along the reedbeds. I heard from Furuso-san that they also breed in lakes on high mountains near Beppu as well. I wonder how they migrate up there, where the lakes are located among the forest on the mountain top, completely isolated from any body of water.

Non-breeding Little Grebes (Tachybaptus ruficollis poggei)
Even with a photography hide, the grebes were still relatively wary. Unlike the Common Teals which came swimming only about 10m away from of the hide, the grebes didn't come any closer than at least 20m. I sat there waiting from about 9:30AM until 10:30AM. As you can see from the photos, the light has changed from the warm yellowish morning light to normal midday light. One interesting thing was that the grebes were quite vocal. Its call was very loud and distinctive. All of them seemed to be staying in pairs as well. I'd love to come back again in March and take photos of them in their breeding plumage.


Stuart Price said...

Little Grebes are so shy, you did well here. I've never managed a decent shot of one.

I've never seen a Baikal Teal either.

Phil said...

Very shy here too, they never come close. Some of our Little Grebes are long distance migrants from as far as Russia so a trip up a mountain may not be too far at all.

Russell said...

Yes, you got some nice shots of them. I've never been that close to one. I really love the lighting and the colours.

John said...

The Little Grebes look great in the early morning light. They always dive and stay down when I point a camera at them !