Western Grebe; Aechmophorus occidentalis -- Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge; Brigham, Utah: Always expect the unexpected. This is a lesson I have learned over my many years of photographing birds. While I was at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, I had a fantastic time photographing Western and Clarke’s Grebes. The grebes were always in the hustle and bustle of life. There were birds with chicks, feeding chicks and birds chasing off intruders getting too close to chicks. Then, there were those that were fishing. Lots of grebes were fishing, and most were catching small fry that were no more than an inch or inch and half long. As soon as an adult would surface with a fish, it would feed it to its’ chick. This was good and I got find photos of adults feeding chicks, but I want a grebe with a bigger fish.
Just when I was about to give up the idea of a grebe with a bigger fish, the unexpected happened. When I came across this fellow fishing, he surfacing a couple of times a minute with small fish like all the others. After watching for a few minutes he surfaced, much to my delight, with a catfish that was about 7-8 inches long.
Instead of catching the catfish between its beak, the grebe speared the catfish with its lower mandible. With its sharp spiny back and side fins catfish must be tough to get down. After about twenty minutes of thrashing the catfish against the water, diving and resurfacing with the fish the grebe eventually got his catch down.
Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f4 with 1.4 teleconvert, Exposure 1/1,600 Sec @ f6.3