At Least no Worries

Welcome to October everyone! The stress of the Halloween event is now passed and almost everything is packed up and put away until next year. Unfortunately, that reduction of stress has been replaced with concerns about this weekend’s ultra trail race. I am officially at the point where internal demons start cracking through the positive defenses – did you train enough, it would be tragic if you clipped a root, moles are out putting traps on the course, did you see those temps inching up, those shoes don’t seem broke in enough and a litany of other worries that always plague the few days before a big test. Honestly, anyone confident about a 50 mile race should probably consider some therapy sessions ha. Anyway, now in the final tapers. Did break in a new pair of shoes yesterday to have as a backup (actually a backup for the backup that I already broke in earlier in the year). These are a new version of my standard trail shoes – lower lugs, updated tread pattern and most of all, the “lyte” version for those later miles when the legs feel like they have cement blocks attached to them. Did manage to laugh at myself when I almost “supermaned” going down a hill yesterday. My usual ASIC Gel Fujitrabuco lugs are thicker and longer, reminiscent of my many years on the baseball field. Never have failed me especially in the 6 hours of rain and mud of my last 50K (link here). The new ones are lower and sharper with a chainsaw like pattern. I’ve gotten use to the very slight slip as the larger lugs sink in and stupidly assumed the same with the lyte pair. Started down a steep hill, made the first plant and literally rocketed forwarded way over my feet as the new tread grabbed instantly and immediately transferred the energy forward. Caught myself, laughed off the close tumble and went to work harnessing the change. My only worry is whether it will self clean like the standard lugs on soggy trails. Stay tuned for the upcoming uber-exciting dissertation on the wonders of Body Glide hehehehe. I know, I know, you are here for the featured feathered friends, not to read babble on my masochist hobby So, let’s get to it.

Least Grebe found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park January 2021

Hit the jump to see a few more images of this alligrebe.

How is that for cute and cuddly! The Least Grebe has to be in my top 6 favorite waterbirds. A late addition to my bird list as my first sighting was only in January 2020 (link here). That encounter was at Estero Llano Grande State Park in Weslaco, TX. That was the year my brother Ron was able to come down with us and an incredibly nice volunteer at that park gave us a private tour for most of the morning. A godsend for Ron who was able to check off a ton of new birds that day alone. Today’s specimen also comes thanks to a trip to Texas, however, this one was found last January at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park outside Mission, TX.

Least Grebe found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park January 2021

The previous sighting at Estero consisted of several Least Grebes hanging out at the Grebe Marsh – yes, their very own named pond although there were some Egret and Heron intruders milling about. Still kicking myself for not asking the volunteer if they see what hangs out in their various ponds in order to name them or if the various wildlife simply read the maps and know which way to head as even their other named ponds match up perfectly to their inhabitants. Then again, that volunteer may not have appreciated my humor and thrown us both in the Alligator Lake that sits just past that marsh (before you ask, yes that had Alligators in it).

The Least you see here was enjoying the murky waters of La Parida Banco. I believe this is technically an oxbow lake (locally referred to as resacas) named for a birthed bank if my three years of high school Spanish is anywhere close. For those not familiar with oxbows, they are formed when a river decides it has had enough of meandering around and takes a shortcut across a bend leaving a body of water stranded. In this case it looks like the Rio Grande gave the US more territory as it redirected straight across a choke point otherwise I would have technically been standing south of Mexico (Linda and I have birded places on the border where that is true).

Least Grebe found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park January 2021

As far as the Least goes, you will have to head down to the southern tip of Texas, the Keys or down into Central America to get this Grebe checked off your list. They are not migratory so you will not even be able to tin one just passing through the interior of the states, which makes this a very nice add for Ron’s list for his so far one trip down to that area.

According to Cornell, the Least Grebe favors resacas (right on the money there!). Like the Pied variety, the Least will evade danger by submerging its entire body underwater with just its bill exposed – as Dory says, I shall call him “alligrebe” and he shall be mine and he shall be my “alligrebe”. Ow, bad “alligrebe”, bad “alligrebe”. Cornell’s website also mentions their large wings to body size allow them to take flight much quicker than other waterbirds. Unlike the resaca comment, I cannot verify that as I have never seem them do anything beyond lazily float on the water and dive from time to time. Quite the calm, content bird from my perspective – must not have any internal running demons to contend with.

Will leave it there folks, hope you enjoyed seeing a few shots of a very cute Grebe.

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