Monday, September 16, 2019

Horned Grebe

I think I’ve mentioned that I have signed up for hourly eBird reports of species I lack on my county list, but that other birders have seen in Thurston County, Washington. Of course using this service requires that you enter all your records into eBird. The 12th of September found Erika and me searching Olympia’s Capitol Lake for Horned and Red-necked Grebes. Erika quickly located the Horned Grebe in this image—field marks include the grebe’s distinct, dark cap, relatively short neck, and small bill. We did not find any Red-necked Grebes.

One problem is that eBird does not guarantee the accuracy of the forwarded records. You are able to look at the submitted lists and check if photographs were taken or if you know the observer. The first Red-necked Grebe report was by a excellent birder. No sooner than we got home, however, another Capitol Lake record, made very soon after our visit, dinged on my cell phone. Could the observer misidentified our Horned Grebe? No Horned Grebes were included on his list.

I am not sure how I feel about these eBird lists. It is interesting to know what birds people are seeing in our county. Running every which way searching for specific birds, however, does seem a bit compulsive. Moping around the house, fretting over birds you’ve missed also seems a tad sad. I tell Erika that it could be worse. I might have signed up for birds I haven’t seen in the entire state or whole country—such alerts would quickly clog my email account. We did enjoy seeing the Horned Grebe. We conversed with a few passersby, who asked what we were doing. And, after consulting eBird when we got home, I was surprised to learn that the Horned Grebe, although new for me in Thurston County, was not new for my state list. I have four other state records, the first seen on 8 August 1968 at Deception Pass State Park.

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