The main event in the Klamath Basin in May, I’m told, is the dancing of the grebes. As part of their mating ritual these birds stand up and walk, or rather run across the surface of the water. Or so it appears. So, in an effort to capture this dance I made a special trip to Putnam Point on Klamath Lake, an offshoot of Moore Park on the western edge of Klamath Falls. Well, good news first, I did get to see several pairs of grebes get up and dance. But, it all happens very fast so getting it captured is not such a simple matter. I came close, this grebe was just getting underway with his or her partner when a third grebe surfaced, breaking up the party. Whether that was intentional on the part of the third grebe or not is anybody’s guess.
I did observe and shoot some other interesting grebe behavior while I was there. There seemed to be some disagreement about whether this delicacy should be shared but in the end it was swallowed whole by the proud grebe in possession. A part of the mating ritual aside from the dancing on water is a kind of shadowing act where one grebe moves its head and neck and the partner follows suit. This one seems to be into it but failing to get much response. I can so relate.
Another behavior which I observed a number of times and have not found reference to in my reading is the foot display. I’m not sure if that is part of the mating ritual or if they just like to dry out their feet now and then.
I didn’t feel I had done justice to the Basin without a trip to Tule Lake but between weather and family matters I was only able to manage a quick day trip. My first stop is always at the restroom going into Lower Klamath NWR. What did my wondering eyes behold but a colony of cliff swallows flitting in and out of their nests under the eaves of the restroom building and the nearby information kiosk.
The next thing I noticed as I started my drive around the auto tour route was a decided absence of ducks. Those that were there were new to me. The very handsome Cinnamon Teal. I had no sooner finished my shot of the Teal and a Barn Swallow swept in and struck this very photogenic pose. I also observed a number of black crowned night herons both adult and juvenile but my photos were ho hum at best.
On to Tule Lake and again the waters seemed very quiet in comparison with earlier visits. The only geese were Canadians and these were now on the water where previously that had mostly been sticking to land. My guess is it had something to do with temperature.
As I was driving around the lake my car kept flushing white faced Ibis and I was in despair as to how I would be able to approach them to photograph. Only on the return loop did I come upon a whole flock of Ibis. While they flew off at first they apparently felt safe in numbers and came back to show off their beautiful iridescent feathers. My last stop was at Discovery Marsh where I have had the best luck with song birds. My walk out to the shelter was unremarkable but back in the parking lot I spotted this Bullock’s Oriole in the tree next to my car. Another big check mark on my life list.