It was late in the season to be nest-building, but the previous nest of this pair of western grebes had been raided by a raccoon, and so they had to start over. Karen spotted this elegant couple on her early morning walk, busily gathering reeds, ‘so absorbed in their work,’ she says, ‘they didn’t seem to notice me’.
These two birds are mirroring each other, so their nest-building activity might also be a courtship ritual. Western grebes have intricate display rituals, including the weed dance, where the birds hold tufts of water weeds in their bills and paddle to maintain an upright position, chest to chest.
Nikon D5 + 500mm f4 lens; 1/1600 sec at f8 (+0.3 e/v); ISO 1000; Really Right Stuff monopod + ballhead
San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, California, USA
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Karen Schuenemann, USA
Karen's work often focuses on the urban wilderness of the Los Angeles area, where animals survive between freeways and residential construction. She currently leads workshops to Bosque del Apache (New Mexico) Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming) and Africa. She also teaches classes at the California Center for Digital Arts and at Tuttle Cameras in Long Beach, California.