Grebe Running On Water With A Fish

I like to challenge my photography skills and this is one of my favorite ways of doing it.

Pied-billed Grebes are known for their mercurial and belligerent behaviors. They often transform from calm, sleepy and almost boring subjects to leg and wing-churning dynamos in a heartbeat as they battle over fishing rights and actual fish. Their small size and incredible but unpredictable speed make them very difficult to follow with a long lens so photographing their scrappy behaviors is a real challenge and great practice for the photographer.

This time of year the 4-way pond at Farmington is often loaded with Pied-billed Grebes and since most photographers ignore them they’re a double draw for me because I like to document their feisty behaviors and I don’t enjoy photographing in crowds.


1/4000, f/6.3, ISO 640, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

When this grebe captured a fish that was too large to swallow quickly it immediately had competition for the fish when another grebe rushed in and attempted to steal it. The photographer can often predict that the rightful owner of the fish will run across the water in an attempt to escape with its prize but you can’t predict what direction they’ll take or when it will happen so getting them in frame and sharp while they’re running is very difficult.

In this case the pursuing grebe was right on the heels of the grebe with the fish so this was a serious attempt at escape and the action was incredibly fast. I got a few other shots of both grebes during the encounter but not many of them were sharp enough. I was lucky to get this one as sharp as I did (a fast shutter speed helped to save my bacon once again).

Birds are generally scarce this unusually warm winter so I’ll practice on grebes more often than usual. Like most bird photographers I can use all the practice I can get.



Late addendum:

Facebook friend Muffy Gately asked to see a photo of the grebe that was chasing the one with the fish. I never did get both birds in the same frame but this shot (below) shows that second bird just at the moment it gave up the chase. It makes me smile…




24 comments to Grebe Running On Water With A Fish

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>