One of the exciting things to experience at Clear Lake is the return of Western and Clarks Grebes to mate, nest and raise their young. The many symbolic gestures of the mating pairs proves to be a captivating scene. Between the beautiful 'dance' as the mating Grebes dance across the water, the passing of fish between the birds in the pair, and other mating rituals, it's always fascinating to observe these magnificent birds. To give you an estimate of the magnitude of the nesting area, in a 2015 study of the Clear Lake Grebe nests, Floyd E. Hayes, Dylan Turner, and Aimee Wyrick estimated 4,993 (!) nests on Clear Lake that one season alone. This year, I missed the ritual dance across the water but was delighted to experience the passing of the fish between prospective mates. As the male surfaced with a fish, I'd watch as the female lowered her head and swam straight across at the male until taking the fish in her beak. They did this repeatedly, giving us plenty of opportunity to enjoy observing such a special, but short-lived ritual. From what I observed, the males were quite adept at catching fish for their prospective mates. ;-) Later in the evening, we were delighted to watch as the Grebes repeatedly hunted for their fish just at the edge of the water where we could see them clearly as they swiftly chased their prey.
But Grebes aren't the only attraction this time of year. There were plenty of nesting Great Blue Herons, Tree Swallows, and even a nesting Western Bluebird pair to enjoy all around us. It was difficult to do anything but sit and watch this wonderful bird sanctuary come to life with spring nesting activity. I enjoy Clear Lake any time of year, but I know we'll be back again for this special season in years to come. Godspeed to all of the hard-working parents and their new offspring .....
Remember that this is the season of nesting, so be sure to do all of your tree trimming at a later time. You never know what birds may be using your trees and shrubs for their nesting needs. And as always, contact your local wildlife rehabilitator if you find a bird or newborn chick in need. Enjoy the season!!