On Friday afternoon, at around 5pm, I did a little birding at the Ridgewood Reservoir. While scanning the lake in the central basin I spotted a pair of Pied-billed Grebes. I did not see any of chicks, but their presence during the breeding season could be a positive sign. The pair stayed close to each other much of the time. Several times, they appeared to be pointing their heads into the air or turning their heads from side to side. This could have just been their way of looking out for predators. I found the following information about their courtship displays:
"Like other grebes, P. podiceps is monogamous on a seasonal or multi-seasonal basis. However, unlike other grebes, it has no intricate courtship display. Courtship has five different stages: Advertising, the Pirouette Ceremony, Ripple Dive, Circle Display, and Triumph Ceremony.
Advertising marks the beginning of courtship, swimming around with sleek feathers and elongated neck allow the single bird to let birds of opposite sex take notice of his or her availability. In the pirouette ceremony, each bird approaches the other and then takes an upright posture and may give a greeting call followed by a series of head turning jerks. The Ripple Dance involves dives and races underwater to show the other bird his or her swimming prowess. The Circle Display is self explanatory and can be initiated by either sex; during the Circle Display the pair are several meters apart on the water surface. The Triumph Ceremony, which takes place after mates have been established, consists of each mate circling around the other in a stooped position." (Palmer, R. 1962. Handbook of North American birds. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press)
There are some very good views of Jamaica Bay from the Ridgewood Reservoirs high vantage point. While scoping the Fountain Avenue Landfill I noticed something curious. There was a plume of something rising up out of the old landfill that distorted the image. The effect was similar to heat distortion. I digiscoped the following video. I am assuming that it is a plume of methane, because landfills need to vent off methane that is produced during decomposition of organic matter.
Ridgewood Reservoir, 07/11/2008
Wood Duck (14)
Pied-billed Grebe (2. Possibly breeding.)
Red-tailed Hawk (1)
Bank Swallow (2)
Orchard Oriole (1)
Other common species seen (or heard)
Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow