Warning: Illegal string offset 'filter' in /home/untame3/public_html/blog/wp-includes/taxonomy.php on line 1495

I spent the last two mornings at Coyote Lake County Park east of Gilroy, CA with the goal of photographing Western Grebes (and/or their close cousins, Clark’s Grebes) engaging in their fascinating courtship behavior. The grebes did not disappoint as you can see in the following pictures. One post on the “South Bay Birds” mailing list described this viewing opportunity as one that occurs about once a decade, or perhaps only once a generation within Santa Clara County!

Two Western Grebes (Aechmophorus occidentalis) engage in a courtship ritual known as "rushing", where they race across the water in synchrony.

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF500mm f/4L IS USM at 500 mm, 1/1000 sec at f/4, ISO 1600

One Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) chases away a rival who had attempted to lure away the first one's prospective mate.

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF500mm f/4L IS USM +1.4x at 700 mm, 1/640 sec at f/5.6, ISO 1600

A Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) attempts to entice its partner in a "Weed Ceremony", a pair-bonding ritual in which the birds rise into a vertical posture with most or all of their bodies out of water, then move slowly forward, sometimes spiraling, while their heads rotate from side to side, all while holding aquatic vegetation in their bills.

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF500mm f/4L IS USM +1.4x at 700 mm, 1/640 sec at f/5.6, ISO 1600

A pair of Western Grebes (Aechmophorus occidentalis) both, with bills filled with vegetation begin the courtship display known as "Weed Ceremony".

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF500mm f/4L IS USM +1.4x at 700 mm, 1/640 sec at f/5.6, ISO 1600

With necks entwined, a pair of Western Grebes (Aechmophorus occidentalis) perform their "Weed Ceremony". The coot in the foreground appeared to deliberately circle the grebe couple during this display for reasons that remain unclear.

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF500mm f/4L IS USM +1.4x at 700 mm, 1/640 sec at f/5.6, ISO 1600

Share Button