Penasquitos Lagoon Red-necked Grebe continues, seen preening on dry land, Sunday June 12

Susan Smith

The continuing RED-NECKED GREBE was seen swimming in the  northern arm of the slough about 40 yards east of the Torrey Pines Beach (PCH) bridge when I arrived there at about 11:40 am today, and to my surprise, it then proceeded to haul itself up on a sandbar, where it stood preening for about 20 minutes, before tipping over and belly sliding to the water,  penguin-like, at about noon. It then swam upstream to the northeast, before paddling behind the  peninsula sand bank that juts out there, disappearing from view at about 12:15.  The tide was low, and the river mouth was open but shallow. While the bird was  on land (an occurrence that is definitely not common  with this species), I watched it preen and pluck at its chest and flank feathers---they are supposed to do this and swallow feathers to ease the passage of fish bones, I read.  While preening, every once in a while, it would  raise and flap its wings and preen its wing feathers, which looked to be very ratty,  and puny like the bird was undergoing wing molt.  I wonder if this is the reason it has not looked like the wing feathering was not developed enough for flight. RN grebes are supposed to molt primaries and secondaries at the same time, so are flightless at this stage. But  I thought that this was the wrong time for this molt....can anyone shed some light on this?  Has it been determined that this bird is in Alternate 1 plumage or Definitive Alternate plumage? The head tufts seem to be pretty well developed.  Sue

Susan Smith
Seiurus Biological  Consulting
Del Mar, CA 

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