Breeding grebes at Clear Lake
- If anybody is interested in observing or photographing the breeding Aechmophorus (Western and Clark's) grebes of Clear Lake, now is a good time to do so. Their breeding numbers have been increasing gradually during the past three summers. As of 22 July, my students and I have counted 2,592 nests in 19 colonies, which already
exceeds the 2,382 nests in 17 colonies last year. Because their numbers have peaked in August during the previous three summers, we anticipate our tally to increase. We still haven't seen any chicks yet, but a few have probably hatched out by now and many more will be hatching out in the coming weeks.
The fishing and water recreation industries of Clear Lake haven't been prospering much during the past several summers due to the excessive growth of cyanobacteria, algae and macrophytic plants. It would be nice if wildlife viewing became a growing source of income and pride for residents around the lake. The nesting grebes are a fabulous attraction. However, the nests are difficult to see from land. A huge colony of 1,575 nests can be seen (but distantly) south of the bridge at Rodman Slough. A very small colony of five can be seen up close from the edge of the lagoon at Lakeside County Park. The nesting colonies are much easier to observe from the water, but of course you would need a boat. If you would like to see them but don't have your own boat, I highly recommend contacting Faith Rogolosi, who routinely takes visitors to observe them for a fee; her Eyes of the Wild website, which includes contact information, is at www.eyesofthewild.us. In some of
the colonies the birds are habituated to frequent disturbance from boaters (mostly fishermen and kayaks) and allow slow boats to approach very closely before jumping off the nests. If you make it out there on your own, please approach a colony VERY slowly, stop as soon as the first jumps off the nest, and back up a bit.
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