Monday, April 11, 2016

A Big Lake Norman Rarity

I got a report that a Western grebe might be hanging out off The Point development in Iredell County over the weekend. After contacting the reporter i was able to drive down Brawley School Road to a cove near the Lake Norman Yacht Club.

Within a minute of scanning the cove and the open water of the main channel I was on the bird. A Western grebe is a bona-fide rarity anywhere, anytime in North Carolina.

There are only a handful of records for the species from the Piedmont, and only one previous from Lake Norman. I was lucky enough to see that bird in 2006 near the Cowan's Ford Dam. The are more records from the coast but they are still very rare on the ocean and sounds too.

Western grebes are large, strikingly marked water birds; twice as large as the familiar horned grebes that winter regularly on Lake Norman. Their range includes most of the western United States but clearly a very few individuals come east in the winter. This bird seems to be taking it's time heading back west. It's photo is below.

Since the bird is in Iredell County, I won't be able to add it to my state or Mecklenburg lists. If I kept an Iredell list I could put it on that one. Maybe I should start one. Western grebe would be a pretty fancy bird to begin a list with.

Western Grebe by Nanci Scott