Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Grebes, Herons, and More at the Marsh

Yesterday morning -- again, during a temporary break in the rain -- I went back to the Arcata Marsh. I'm finally starting to take advantage of how close I live to this amazing place! Just like last week, the marsh was hosting lots and lots of ducks, as well as various other birds, including several hunters in a large pool that must have been brimming with fish. I loved getting to see herons and grebes at work, especially at such close range. (I don't know whether it's because of the abundance of wildlife or the abundance of people that hang out in this relatively small area, but the birds at the Arcata Marsh seem especially willing to stay near the paths even when people walk by!)

Two gorgeous Western Grebes were popping in and out of the water:

This grebe is about to slice into the water for another dive:

I've only ever seen these big grebes from afar before, so this was quite a treat. What a bird:

I can't get over those red eyes, and that knife-like beak:

Two smaller Eared Grebes were hunting in these waters as well. OK, wait, these eyes are the best, with that ring of yellow in the middle of the orange-red:

One of the two Eared Grebes was looking especially fluffy, but it was doing just as much diving as its fellow:

A Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret were prowling nearby:

And this turned out to be an amazing chance to watch a Great Blue Heron at work up close. First, I just had to admire this giant bird:

Herons look so funny from the front, but I absolutely love the patterns on this creature's neck and chest:

This heron proved to be an excellent hunter, nabbing a fish every few minutes. (The Great Egret wasn't having quite as much success.) Got one:

Ah, too many eyes!

And down it goes! (Not shown: the fish was still wriggling as it was swallowed.)

And there's another fish soon afterward:

So yeah, I would not want to be a fish in this pond, that's for sure.

In another pond, Green-winged Teal were busy filtering food from the water's surface, motoring around like flat little boats:

A few Lesser Scaup (including some dapper males this time) were in another pond:

And a very sleepy Horned Grebe was floating around as well:

(I also saw a Pied-billed Grebe, making a total of four grebe species; not bad for one visit!)

I can't help taking more pictures of Marsh Wrens when these handsome little birds keep popping up right next to me:

Sing, little Marsh Wren!

I wonder if these birds have started building nests yet, or if they're still working on establishing their territories:

Lovely little bird:

Could this be the same Northern Harrier that flew past me last week, in exactly this same spot?

A Red-shouldered Hawk watched a meadow from a nearby tree:

And a flock of Golden-crowned Sparrows waited calmly in some brambles for me to walk past so they could return to feeding in the path:

And all that in a short visit between rain storms! Hooray for the Arcata Marsh!

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