(Report and photographs by Irene Cholewka)
Col. Sam Smith Park has waited a long time for the successful breeding of the Red-Necked Grebes. The past couple of years have been great for them as nesting platforms have been put out, and the Grebes happily built their nests with great success in producing young.
This year is a tale of sadness and loss of hope.
Mid March, platforms were put out (one was left over the winter in the water) and the Grebes were happily swimming in the waters. The Grebes were calling and choosing their mates. I started watching for the mating where she lowers her head in submission to the very end when the male does his success dance on the water. It truly is a great sight to see.
Nest building went on this year as every year and then the rains came, and the nests were washed out and tossed about by the winds and waves. But they are determined and they rebuild another nest until a Double Crested Cormorant decides he likes the platform and disassembles the nest (the one with the orange ball). He sat there for almost 4 days. I was becoming disheartened. People were booing him, shooing him, telling him to get off the platform. It wasn’t his!
Once again our determined Grebes rebuild their nest. Maybe the 3rd time is a charm. I’m not sure how the Grebes got their nest back but they did!
From approximately the 2nd week of June till that last week in July, she sat, and sat, patiently waiting for a hatch – we weren’t even sure there was an egg. But she was defiant, stubborn and waited patiently. She didn’t even give that Cormorant a change to get on the platform!
The last few days of July I went down to the park, and found all Grebe platforms abandoned and, of course, no babies. My heart sank.
I have to give them credit though. They are stubborn, resilient and very determined birds and I am hoping for a more successful year next summer. I will be watching again as I do every year in hopes of seeing young Grebes in our beautiful park.