Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis – Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge near Great Falls, Montana: Grebes are a fascinating group of birds. Traveling west over the past summer I had the opportunity to photography and observer four different grebe species. It seemed that every lake I saw had grebes floating on its waters. Grebes are ingeniously designed to live on and in the water. Their legs are placed so far back on their bodies that they cannot walk on land. However, those hind set legs that hinder walking on land are ideal for propelling the bird through their watery world.
When I arrived at Benton Lake NWR, I found Eared Grebes in abundance. I was excited at the possibility of getting close-up shots of these beautiful birds. After cruising the refuge I found the perfect location on the edge of a lake where Eared Grebes were swimming close to the shore. With some stealth I positioned myself on the lakes edge and waited for the grebes to swim past me. It did not take long before the birds were in easy shooting range. But, and there is always a “but”, a light cloud cover prevented the warm, early morning light from falling upon my intended subjects. I stood on the edge of the lake for over an hour shooting images, and I was having a great time, but the light just wasn’t right. I was almost to the point of giving up when the clouds thinned and a soft warm light brought the scene to life. After many attempts over the years to get a good image of an Eared Grebe I was finally successful. Now, I can’t wait until I have the opportunity to shoot the Eared Grebe again. By the way, if you haven’t noticed, bird photographers are always looking for a better image!
Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/200 second @ f9