Going Grebing on Clearlake
- Before deciding to buy a used two-person kayak yesterday I went out on
Clearlake with the seller of the boat to the cove where huge numbers of
grebes are still congregated. There are thousands on the open water,
and quite a few nesting in the tules, particularly in one area where
there is a big opening in the tules. I saw a few eggs, but didn't want
to go in close enough to see more.
We found a spot on the east side of the cove where we could nestle our
boats under overhanging trees, which served as sort of a blind. From
there we watched many spectacular rushing episodes, and several other
types of head and neck rituals - one where one bird imitates the other
in a synchronized "dance", one where they face each other, puff up the
area under their chins, and jut their heads toward each other over and
over again; then they abruptly turn, extend their necks in an s-curve,
and perform the parallel "rushing" on top of the water for 15-30 feet.
It is very beautiful. Anyone who hasn't seen this should try to.
The noise was quite exciting too - lots and lots of grebe sounds.
Babies on mothers' backs will come next.
It is the next cove to the west from Lakeside County Park, where there
is a boat ramp. The shore is covered with tules, so access is only by
We also had great close-up views of yellow-headed blackbirds, and two
beautiful nests that I suspect were theirs, which were no longer
occupied but had lingering feathers. The nests were 6-7 inches tall,
maybe 5 inches wide, woven of brown and green strands of a very
flexible, wavy material. It seemed too soft and wavy to be tule
Steve Ousley has quite a few more used kayaks to sell at often less
than wholesale prices. He used to have a kayak concession at Clearlake
State Park but has gone out of business.
I might be persuaded to take someone out in my boat for a fee (it's a
45-minute to an hour drive for me to get there from Ukiah).