During spring and fall migration there can be so many Eared Grebes (Podiceps nigricollis) on the Great Salt Lake that they are impossible to count.
Eared Grebes on the Great Salt Lake – Nikon D200, handheld, f9, 1/1000, ISO 400, Nikkor 18-200mm VR at 130mm, natural light
The diet of Eared Grebes include brine shrimp and alkali flies that are found in hyper saline environments such as Mono Lake in California and the Great Salt Lake in Utah. For most of the year Eared Grebes and Wilson’s Phalaropes are the two bird species that spend the most time in highly saline environments.
It is amazing to stop on the causeway to Antelope Island State Park and see thousands upon thousands of Eared Grebes. Yesterday day most of the grebes were north of the causeway and even with my high-powered lens I couldn’t see where the birds stopped.
Eared Grebe in breeding plumage – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
I think that Eared Grebes are gorgeous in breeding plumage with their primarily dark body and neck combined with the dark head in contrast to the wispy yellow plumes and cherry red eye. I like that crest too!
My portfolio is seriously lacking in Eared Grebe images, something I should remedy.
Eared Grebe on a gray day
Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area, Davis County, Utah
D200, f7.1, 1/250, ISO 320, +0.3 EV, 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
This photo was taken on a cloudy day, the dim lighting was a challenge and these Eared Grebes (Podiceps nigricollis) seem to like to keep their back to me. They do turn back and look now and then so I try to be ready for when that happens.
Despite the dreary light I am glad I took this shot because of how well the orange eye stands out, a nice splash of color in an otherwise black and white image.
This Eared Grebe is in nonbreeding plumage and while they are gorgeous birds in breeding plumage I find them very appealing in this stage of plumage too.
Eared Grebes are the most abundant grebe in North America, there are times I see huge flocks of them on the Great Salt Lake numbering in the tens of thousands. Except for when they are breeding they prefer highly saline water like the Great Salt Lake where their favorite foods thrive, brine shrimp and alkali flies.