I first got interested in photographing grebes when I saw some pics of them, in their breeding plumage, online back in 2006. The photographer who took the pics, I do not remember who it was any more, had noted that he took the pics at Medicine Lake NWR in June. So I did some research on Medicine Lake NWR and found that it was not far off of the north route to Yellowstone. So when we were planning our 2007 Yellowstone trip we, Michelle and I, decided to cut a day out of photographing Yellowstone and make a side trip to Medicine Lake.
This turned out to be a good decision. The weather in Yellowstone was not very cooperative for us that year and it had a big effect on our ability to go out and take pics. Our day at Medicine Lake was just the opposite however. We had beautiful weather, there were lots of birds to photograph and we got some great eared grebe shots.
Then in the early spring of 2008, while I was photographing the heron rookery at the Upper Mississippi Regional Park I spotted a grebe bobbing around in the river. It looked similar to the eared grebe that we had photographed at Medicine Lake the previous year but it was a bit different.
This was the first time that I had seen horned grebe in their breeding plumage. They were not quite as spectacular as the eared grebe were but they were still a beautiful bird. I saw horned grebe in numerous locations around the Twin Cities that spring as they stopped by on their way north during migration. Unfortunately this year, 2009, was not a very good year for spotting migrating waterfowl in southern Minnesota and so I did not see any horned grebe this spring.
Both eared and horned grebe are quite plain when they are in their non-breeding plumage. The picture above is of an eared grebe. It was taken in February at the Elk Horn Slough in central California.