Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday Visitor

We had a special visitor on the Guest House pond this morning. Once again, Robin called while I was still a-snooze, to tell me to bring my camera and hurry. And once again, I threw on some clothes, grabbed the camera bag, and this time, headed for the car. When I arrived at the pond a few minutes later, Robin had gone to feed the cattle and the surface of the pond was empty. Or so I thought. I watched and looked for a few minutes and saw nothing but the fish swishing and a few raindrops making ripples. Robin came back and didn't see anything either, but kept insisting that it was still there. Finally, we saw it: a grebe paddling around near the water's edge.

 My Birds of Virginia Field Guide (by Stan Tekiela) gives the bird's proper name: a Pied-Billed Grebe and describes what we were looking at perfectly.

Although the book says grebes are "common residents," they are not common around here, at least not anymore. Robin's father could remember when, decades ago, there were a lot of grebes on the river. They called them "dive dippers" because they dove under the surface of the water. I tried to capture our little fella as he dove, but this is all I got:

They stay under water for several minutes sometimes, and usually surface in a completely different place from where they went down

Robin walked to the other side of the pond, which caused the grebe to swim toward me.

He (or she!) finally got close enough that I could get some decent pictures. 

Years ago, when a school faculty meeting got hot and stuffy, I slipped out of the library to open the front door for some fresh air. A few minutes later, a little bird (which turned out to be a grebe) hobbled in and started down the hall! With the custodian's help, I got it into a box and brought it home. When we put it into a small tub of water, it was so happy! It paddled and paddled with its one good leg, sending it around in circles. Apparently, it had mistaken a puddle on the parking lot for water deep enough to land on and broken its leg as a result. We sent it to the wildlife rehab center where it could be properly cared for. Luckily, this morning's visitor didn't make the same mistake.

I watched him dive and resurface for almost an hour. He stayed in the middle of the pond as long as Robin and I were on either side. When Robin joined me, the grebe headed to the other side, away from us pesky humans.

How blessed I am when God lets me peek inside the wonders of his creation! And how sweet it is to have a husband who gets up early enough to make sure I don't miss them.


  1. Common birds can make for uncommon surprises and these are lovely photos. Maybe you will have a nesting pair! Here is Cornell Ornithology's "All About Birds" page:
    My favorite diving duck is the Bufflehead. Buffleheads winter on The James and I always mark down my first sighting in fall.
    And the school visitor was indeed a "lucky duck" to be properly rescued! ~Laura G.

  2. Nancy, these photos are so amazing. I don't know if I have ever heard of a grebe but it sure looks like a! I know you posted this a while ago and I'm not sure why your posts aren't coming to my feed. I also am always so disappointed when I want to comment back to someone and they are a no reply blogger. You always say the kindest things and the only way I can respond is finding your latest post and commenting on it. I do not use Google Plus. If you could send me your email, I would certainly love to have it! :)


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