Spring Sightings

First time is always the most exciting. These past weeks, I came across three sightings of something I’d never seen before. They may be common for other birders or nature watchers, but what’s important for me is, those were my first time.

From afar, I knew that wasn’t a Chickadee or a Nuthatch, albeit about the same size but plumper. I took the picture and later looked it up. It was a Dark-eyed Junco. Sure I’ve heard of the junco before, but have never come face to face with one. I further found out that it was one of the most common birds in Canada. Oh really? This was the first time I saw it, and that made it special for me. Love that tiny pink beak.

Another first-time is this photo here. Someone’s having a hearty meal, its delicate hands holding up a green shoot and chomping away. Can you guess what it is? Not a mouse:

Here, its tail gives it away… a baby muskrat. I’ve seen the adult ones but sighting a pint-size muskrat was my first time. At first I thought it was a baby beaver, but the narrow, long tail distinguishes it from the beaver, which has a flattened, paddle-like tail. Here’s a helpful page.

But the following is the most exciting find for me. In a shimmering pond lined with cattails…

I found a water bird I’d never seen before. It had a greyish white patch on its cheek:

I learned later that it was a Red-necked Grebe, breeding mainly in Canada (distribution map here). A grebe is not a duck; it doesn’t have webbed feet. I went back several times and found there were two pairs of them. I look forward to seeing their babies on their back in the coming days or weeks. I’ll be visiting them often.

Their colour features are fine and distinct, rusty red long neck and breast, with a yellow strip along their beak. Loud and distinct calls. Male and female have similar appearance.

I can’t explain it… I’m mesmerized by their serene movement, and yes, crazy calls. I’ve gone back a few times already, at different times of the day and in different weather. Nature’s calming sessions.

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Published by

Arti

If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

10 thoughts on “Spring Sightings”

  1. Oh! What fun to see these new to you critters. I’ve never seen a muskrat or the red necked grebe. Glad you can escape to nature and enjoy these sightings!

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  2. Yay for all your first sightings! We get juncos here as they migrate through in spring and fall but I mostly see them in fall. I love them and they love all my native flowers that have gone to seed. I’ve seen adult muskrats before but never babies. The grebes are gorgeous. I can understand why you are mesmerized. I would be too if they visited here!

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  3. I’ve never seen any of these. We have at least three species of grebe, but not this one. I’ve never seen a live muskrat, but my mother had a 3/4 length muskrat coat that I adored when I was a child. They live and breed (and breed, and breed!) from the Rio Grande up to your area, and they’re listed as a ‘species of least concern.’ There’s no muskrat shortage on the horizon.

    I didn’t know there was a species of grebe that carries its babies. I need to read up on our species and see if they do that. I might have just missed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Linda, click on the link of the distribution map in my post and you’ll see a grebe carrying three babies on her back! When I was there at the pond I talked to another birder and she told me she saw exactly that last year. I want to take a picture of that!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Heather,

      I’ve to Google to find where the Platte River is. We’re so far apart geographically… hopeful some day I have the chance to go birding in your neck of the woods. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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