Horned Grebes ply our ocean waters in winter, wave-diving just past the breakers

Horned Grebes are a fairly common winter visitor to our shores, staying just past the breakers in the ocean or inlets.

We’ve seen them at daybreak right along the beachfront, diving and fishing (and occasionally resting) right there in the waves.  We’ve also seen them in the inlets from the north end and the ferry dock.  They are relatively small: much smaller than another winter visitor, the common loon.  For comparison, Horned grebes are about 14 inches long, while a loon is 25 inches.

Their bill is relatively short and they sit fairly upright in the water, and I always think they look graceful.  We caught this photo of them at a later hour in the day (much better light) a few years ago from the dock. This one must have pulled a crustacean from the mud and grabbed a small piece of seaweed along with it.

They’ve been a fun addition to our winter sunrises.  We never really know if we’re going to see any, but it’s always fun to look for them!  There are two in the photo below, but they’re hard to see.  

Longer Nature Observation of Horned Grebes

If you just want to watch and make observations, here is some of the raw footage of these guys.  Things to think about: how do you see them interacting with each other?  How does their posture change when they’re resting or feeding or diving and resurfacing?  How do they time the waves?  Do they ever seem to swim backwards?  Why would it seem like they are moving backwards?