Georgia Birding and Nature

Western Grebe
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I found this WESTERN GREBE at Lake Walter F. George Dam, GA and AL side, 12/06/06.  I took many more photos, though many are of lesser quality.  I can include them when I get time to go through them all.  The bird was relocated and confirmed by other birders that day.  -  Eric Beohm

(Five grebe day for me!  -  Western, Red-necked, Eared, Horned, Pied-billed.  All photographed and confirmed!)
Update: The bird continues to be seen as of Feb 2007 by a number of birders. 
The only other records for GA for this species is one that my family and I had back 1979 and an injuried/dead bird found in 1997.

Note the large size against the Ring-billed Gulls.

The neck was held in an "S" shape much of the time.









Several birders wanted me to show them Canvasbacks and whatever else I could
find. So, I agreed to a trip to Lake Seminole and WFG, 12/06/06. Darlene Moore
and I hit Lake Seminole in the morning, and we quickly found CANVASBACKS
eventually numbering in the hundreds. I counted seventeen species of duck
there. The best bird was a RED-NECKED GREBE that we got to watch for a while.
It was near the dam and swam over much of the lake. Much of the time in GA but
also drifting into Florida waters. Pretty interesting since it is listed as
quite rare in GA and accidental with only a few records for the coastal plain
of Georgia. Also, I remember that it used to be unverified for Florida. I
assume that has changed over the last five or so years, but still very rare for
Florida. Also, I was pleased to see at least two EARED GREBES at this location.
It is listed as accidental outside the piedmont. By the way there were also
Horned Grebes and many Pied-billed Grebes, resulting 
in a Five Grebe Day before the day was out!

 Highlights for Lake Seminole, GA:

  Red-necked Grebe (1)
  Eared Grebe (2)
  Red-throated Loon (1)

  17 Species of Duck:

  Canvasback (400+)
  Redhead (about 30)
  Greater Scaup (about 20)
  Northern Pintail (2)
  Red-breasted Merganser (4)

  Tree Swallow (30)
  Little Blue Heron (1)
  Black-crowned Night-heron (10)

We leisurely made our way up to Lake Walter F. George Dam. After about ten
minutes of scanning I found a WESTERN GREBE. It was out a ways on the GA side,
but Darlene Moore's Leica Televid 60x scope brought it in surprisingly well. We
watched it for a while and eventually it moved in closer. We were able to
verify all field marks for identification: very large for a grebe; long,
swan-like neck, wing pattern of outstretched wing was dark on top with faint
white stripe down the center; white foreneck and black nape and cap; black cap
dips below eye; dark body sat low in the water; bill was long, thin, and dull
yellow. The bird was first on the GA/AL line. Then it moved into GA waters for
a while and then back into Alabama waters. The bird was seen and confirmed by
four other birders besides Darlene and myself. They all had their own scopes,
which is pretty much a necessity at this location. The bird continued pretty
much in the same spot when we left in the


  Highlights from Lake Walter F. George, GA:

  Western Grebe (1)
  Canvasback (about 10)
  Redhead (about 10)
  Greater Scaup (about 5)
  Sandhill Cranes (4)

 The Western Grebe was out a ways and towards the middle of the lake as viewed
from the dam at Lake Walter F. George. If was mainly in GA waters but did swim
into AL waters at times. If the bird tucks its head in, it can be quite
difficult to see even through a scope.

We had almost perfect viewing conditions. If windy, scanning from the dam can
be a miserable experience and not very fruitful. It might be best to scan from
the AL side if the sun is going down so that the light is not against you.

Thanks to Darlene Moore for her help and those who also came shortly after to
see the bird and thanks to Tracy for posting the info for me.

If you look for the Western Grebe, note that I have also recently had Pacific
Loon, Ross's Goose, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black Scoter, and Long-tailed
Duck at this location. Also, I?ve had Ross's Goose, Greater White-fronted
Geese, Red-throated Loons, Red-necked Grebe, and other things somewhat near
this location recently. The Pacific Loon was a couple weeks ago but remained at
least a few days for other observers to see it. These birds may still be
present here. (Michael and I found a Red-necked Grebe at Lake WFG earlier this
year.) I didn't spend much time looking at the other birds yesterday, since I
was concentrating on the grebe, so some of the aforementioned birds may be

There are basically two reports/records for Western Grebe in Georgia. The
first was in 1979 when one was found at Peachtree City Lake in Fayette County
by Richard Beohm, Rose Beohm, Michael Beohm, and myself. We saw the bird at
very close range through binoculars, took clear detailed notes of it, and were
able to separate it from Clarke's. The second record was 1997 St. Simons Island
where a bird was found injured and died.

Eric Beohm