"Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day." Mark Twain
Warning: If seeing a Grebe down an adult frog makes you feel queasy, best to move on to another post on this blog, or just stop to enjoy pictures of snow on Mt. Lemmon on the Winter pages.
January 3, 2016. Another great morning at Sweetwater Wetlands birding with some friends. We stopped on one of the decks built over the wetlands, and spotted a Pied-billed Grebe playing with something in the water, which looked at first like seaweed. Closer inspection however showed his item of interest to be breakfast, a frog. I captured well over 100 images, picking the ones below to create the feeding sequence.
Our best guess is that this is a Pied-billed Grebe. They are common in Mexico and the United States. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes them as "part bird, part submarine," using their thick bills to kill and eat a variety of crustaceans, fish, amphibians, insects and other invertebrates. Their legs are attached close to the buttucks and they have lobbed, not webbed, toes, making diving easier. They swallow their own feathers, which protect their intestines from damage from rough swallow parts. They will regurgitate indigestible hard parts.
The Grebe tossed the frog around, made one early pass at swallowing it, then began feeding in earnest. The following images are captured in sequence. All photos shot with Canon 6D, Sigma 150-600 contemporary, at 600 mm. Post production processing in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.
Best wishes for a Happy New Year!
On Friday November 20th, I returned to the Wetlands again, this time bringing my wife and master bird spotter. The following images were captured that morning. Again, we did the best we could to identify what we saw and photographed, but no guarantees!
A Vireo and a Phoebe
Above, a Green Heron, sitting on a snag at the edge of the water. One of the better shots with a reasonably clean background. The vegetation is a mixed blessing. When out of focus it can create rich backgrounds, but when close to the subject it creates visual distractions, and gives the autofocus in my Canon/Sigma rig fits. During the morning I resorted to manual focus several times, with mixed results.
Great Egret in flight
This Egret arrived, as usual, unannounced, a passing player on the stage. I caught 19 frames on the fly, these two are reasonably sharp, and have the advantage of the Catalina range to the northeast in the background.
Here are four photos from the morning. My thanks as always to my wife DJ for her help in identifying the birds. Disclaimer: I am first a photographer, and second a birder. No guarantees that I have correctly identified all birds on this website, but gosh, I (we) try hard!
Great Egret which swooped down on the marsh about 8:30 am. As always, tough to capture on the fly and get in focus, but this one was the best of the lot. Canon 6D with Sigma 150-600 mm C series, ISO 125, 600 mm, f 8.0, 1/640.
Little Blue Heron, shortly after 8 am. The vegetation in the wetlands is outstanding, and makes for great backgrounds.
A Green Heron walking along the edge of the reeds. Appears to be a juvenile. Looks like he belongs in a Disney/Pixar feature.
"Audubon's" Yellow-rumped Warbler, shot shortly before 9 am at considerable distance. Lots to see in the wetlands, but much of it is not really close. Bring your binoculars and long lenses.
Henry Johnson, photographer and author of this site. For more detail, see About