This bird was spotted last October on the northeast side of the Union Bay Natural Area.
Using this rather poor view can you tell what kind of bird this is?
Below, the bird's beak is still hidden, but most of the head is now in view. Is this photo enough for you to determine what type of bird it is?
If not here is a more complete example.
From this photo you can tell this is a diving bird that catches relatively small fish. It is also a particularly elegant bird, the curve of the neck, the contrast of dark and light colors, the long slender beak and finally the bright red eyes all work together in this beautifully elegant bird.
This bird is a grebe, however it looks completely different from the Pied-Billed Grebe which is the common grebe on Union Bay.
The grebe in the first three photos is a Western Grebe. It is also the only Western Grebe I saw on Union Bay in 2011. In the past when the waters of Union Bay were clean and unpolluted there would have been more fish and with more food available most likely there would have been more Western Grebes. So, not surprisingly, it was a little sad last year to see just the one, single, solitary Western Grebe.
In the future when the new 520 bridge is built it will not allow the rain water to wash oil and particulates directly into the lake, like the current bridge. This should help nature begin to reclaim the true potential of Union Bay, but lucky for us nature is not waiting on the new 520 bridge.
For the last few days, just to the southwest of the Union Bay Natural Area, a single Western Grebe has once again been spotted on Union Bay. Here it enjoys the golden light of the early morning sun.
Once he (or she) even surfaced right beside my kayak.
However the big surprise of the morning was finding not one but two of these beautiful birds.
Mostly they circled and dived for fish, but sometimes they seemed to play.
They spent time grooming themselves.
They also took time for a little rest and...
Let's hope that next year they start a family and bring their offspring to visit Union Bay.
Thank you to all of you who sent emails to the Washington State Department of Transportation last week. Every little bit we do to help restore nature on Union Bay helps to create a more well-balanced and healthy future for our children.
Thank you for your help.
Odds and Ends:
On the way past Marsh Island I was able to catch a quick shot of a Wood Duck. It isn't the highest quality photo, but the light was so incredible I had to pass it on.