Pied-billed Grebe surfacing with a crayfish – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
For several weeks I’ve been having a blast photographing Pied-billed Grebes capturing and devouring crayfish at a local pond. When the grebes dive under the water I try to keep an eye on where they might surface to see if they’ll bring up a crayfish in their bills and when they do I start firing away because I never know what kind of action or behaviors I will capture in my photos.
I like the water dripping off of the grebe and crayfish in this photo along with the splashing water droplets in front of the grebe’s neck.
Pied-billed Grebe with a crayfish in it’s bill – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
I often feel I have to be quick to lock my focus onto the Pied-billed Grebes when they surface because a gull might come along and attempt to steal the crayfish and that is what happened right after I took this photo, a gull dive bombed the grebe, it sank under the water and I didn’t see it resurface with the crayfish, it may have swam underwater and come up behind some of the vegetation at the edge of the pond and out of my sight.
The two photos above were taken on December 11, 2017
Pied-billed Grebe tearing the legs off of a crayfish – Nikon D500, f6.3, 1/800, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
There is a lot of action to photograph when one of the Pied-billed Grebes catches a crayfish, they first thing they seem to do is to tear off the largest legs of the crayfish because of the big claws they have and they do that by grasping those legs in their bills and shaking the crayfish vigorously.
This photo was taken on Christmas Day, 2017, the three photos below were taken yesterday afternoon.
Pied-billed Grebe shaking a crayfish – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
This photo shows the bill of the Pied-billed gripping the leg of the crayfish just behind the right claw while keeping an eye on the other birds that were nearby yesterday at the pond. Water droplets were flying so the bird had given the crayfish a good shake.
Pied-billed Grebe with Crayfish in mid air – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
A few frames later the grebe shook the crayfish again, some of the smaller legs snapped off and the crayfish went flying into the air. Yesterday afternoon I caught four “flying” crayfish in my photos and each one makes me laugh.
Crayfish on a Pied-billed Grebe’s head – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
The funniest photo I took yesterday, the one that made me laugh out loud the hardest, was when a crayfish landed on the Pied-billed Grebe’s head after the bird shook it hard. When I zoomed in past 100% resolution I could see that the crayfish appeared to be grabbing the feathers on the head of the grebe with its claws.
Photographing these Pied-billed Grebes with Crayfish at the local pond has been fascinating and the action should continue until the grebes leave the small pond to head to larger bodies of freshwater or the marshes to breed, nest and rear their young.
Life is good. Birds are amazing.