Each day more grebe babies are being observed on their parents’ backs. We have received numerous updates from folks in our area who have developed an interest in these birds and their broods. The nesting colonies are still very active. Even though many young have already hatched and have left the colony with their folks, many more adults are sitting on eggs or building new nests. This makes monitoring these nest colonies a multi-dimensional challenge.
After scouring Eagle Lake for other nest colonies, it is beginning to appear that all of the grebes are nesting in an area that covers less than one mile of shoreline. The lake has more than 100 miles of shoreline; however, nearly all of the vegetation that remains alive along the shore is out of the water and inaccessible to the grebes.
The water depth in the active nest colony is dropping too. Many of the nests are in less than one foot of water. Last week during surveys we observed one nest that had been abandoned after it had been stranded on the shore by dropping lake levels.
At Lake Almanor the first colony still has some nesting grebes but most of the nests have been abandoned. Hopefully that was due to hatched babies and not to predation. The grebes that are building nests now are out of the willows and into the pondweed. The birds now have less cover and this increases the exposure of their floating nests to roving predators.
Try to avoid disturbing these birds; now is the time to stay away from the nesting colonies. The fewer disturbances, the greater the chances that the grebes will have a successful hatch. We hope to begin installing signs this week in order to alert lake users to keep their distance from the nesting colonies.
Last Tuesday we flew over Eagle Lake, Lake Almanor and Mountain Meadows Reservoir in order to collect aerial photos of the nesting colonies. William Klett, of Lake Almanor, generously donated his time and airplane to the effort and Plumas Audubon hired an aerial photographer. Visit these sites to see photo mosaics of the two major colonies: deercreekgis.com/panorama/eagle_tules.html, and deercreekgis.com/panorama/almanor_willows.html.
It was an amazing flight, clear and calm: perfect conditions. We did see a canoe in the Almanor colony from the air. Please keep out of the nesting colony until the birds have finished hatching their young. The grebes need all the help that we can give them. Keep the updates coming; feel free to contact us with questions or concerns. Call 283-0455 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.