It was around 7:30 pm and the sun was beginning to get that wonderful golden glow as the day was drawing to a close. I was about 75 yards offshore when I noticed a diving bird I first thought was a cormorant. However, I quickly realized it was not a cormorant because of blazing red eyes, and distinctive white lower face and neck. I hurried back to the house and picked up my camera (which is equipped with 150-600 zoom lens) hoping the bird would stay a while.
As I left the dock I saw the bird was indeed still in the middle of the Lake. I spent the next hour or so cruising the Lake trying to get my back to the sun so I could get some photos of the bird. The bird was very cooperative. It would die and then surface as much as 100 yards away. It was quite an adventure trying to find the bird when it surfaced and then get in position for more photos. It would spend some time on the surface preening and just swimming around. It never acted as though it would fly away.
Finally, at around 8:30, after taking 66 photos, I decided to go back home and leave the bird in peace. As I docked the boat and bid farewell the bird was still swimming and diving near the middle of the Lake.
I downloaded the photos to my computer and was thrilled to see there were many photos of good quality. I cropped a few for a better close-up view. I then enlisted the help of my wife Sherry to help in the identification process. Sherry soon tentatively identified the bird as a Western Grebe. We were a little puzzled since Eastern Indiana is well outside their normal range.
The next step was to send some photos to Terri Gorney, who is afine birder, hoping to confirm the identification. Terri is also in charge of posting photos to Friends of the Limberlost facebook page (I was hoping one or two photos would be accepted for the facebook page). Terri confirmed the identification as a Western Grebe and posted two photos to facebook. The photos have drawn much interest and currently have over 32oo views.
This Western Grebe is only one of many "rare birds" sighted in the Limberlost in the last five years. Check out our facebook page for more information. Friends of the Limberlost-Home of Gene Stratton-Porter.
I am hoping you may be able to visit the Limberlost and perhaps have your own Rare Bird sighting.
Note: Bill Hubbard is a Wetlands Educator at Limberlost State Historic Site in Geneva, Indiana.