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Going Grebing on Clearlake

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  • Kate Marianchild
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , May 13, 2006
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      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
      water.

      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
      strands.

      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.
      279-4515.

      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).

      Kate
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