Spring is always exhausting for me. There are those who honor the approach of spring by sitting and listening to birds, or listening to the song of the frogs, or paddling a canoe or taking a nice long drive or a short walk. I can be found lifting heavy bags of pebble gravel or I am found buried up to my elbows in dirt and mulch in the spring. I sit surrounded by long and short-handled tools and my garden gloves cast aside so that I can better remove the little seedling from the pot. I have short, stubby, fingernails and they are most always outlined in brown earth (most always?) My wardrobe consists of faded jeans and an old torn top and no make-up. I do manage to run a brush through my hair so that I don't scare the birds.
The other day after planting out four trays of annual seeds...most of which will probably not push their green cotyledons above the surface at all...I pushed up my aching back and decided to go sit on the dock. It was the first day we had broken 70 F, and since it might be the last day this warm for some time as predicted by weather forcast and since officially spring had not arrived, I decided to take an afternoon break.
I took my camera, which really is now a permanent appendage, and was able to sit calmly before this fellow above and below appeared above the surface of the water. I sat very still and except for the click of the camera which I held against my face most of the time, it took him a while to realize I was an unnatural entity sitting on the old log at the end of the dock.
He could be an immature horned grebe feeding in the river or maybe a female. I saw no mate and I am not sure if he is going to stay or fly north in a week or so. He looked so ruffled...like he was a college grebe after a night of partying trying to find that green grass that might mediate his headache. By pressing their feathers against their body they can adjust buoyancy and can be seen sometimes with just their head above water. Perhaps he was too young to have learned this trick yet.
That red is his eye...although I know it looks like his eye is elsewhere behind that. They are not the best of fliers but very good divers. When grooming they preen their feathers and feed them to their young; ornithologists are not sure why! Another fascinating tidbit is that they may be related to flamingos. This one appears to be the Horned Grebe or Salvonian Grebe. I have tried for a long time to get a photo this good as they are very shy. Click on the photo for a better look!
As luck would have it, I took this fuzzy photo of the male later in the week. So they are a pair!