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Clark's or Western Grebe


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January 16, 2022 - the first birds are at the Tokeland Marina in Tokeland, WA. There has been one Clark's reported and possible Clark's x Western, the latter of which are giving me pause for thought, though I feel like there is just enough lack of definition on the typical identifying mark of where the black line falls, above or below to make me second guess. There were at least a dozen Grebes on both the marina side and the bay side, and I spotted the one I think is a Clark's then lost it in the mix.

1. Clark's

2022%2001%2016%20Clarks%20Grebe%20Tokela

 

2. Do I have Western on left, Clark's on right? The bill shape is slightly different but I don't feel like it's the brighter coloring I'd expect.

2022%2001%2016%20Clarks%20Grebe%20&%20We

3. This one and 4. are both throwing me a bit.I'm inclined to go with Clark's on this one, the lighter coloring is more definite, and the bill brighter.

2022%2001%2016%20Western%20Grebe%20Tokel

4. This one, while the coloring around the eye makes me think it could go either way, the bill is darker and more dark coloring make me think Western.

2022%2001%2016%20Western%20Grebe%20Tokel

Then just to get myself even more twisted in a knot, I headed to the Westport, WA marina, where, not expecting to find another Clark's, I was just snapping away at whatever I saw, and got home and think I have a second one. Left Western and right Clark's?

 

2022%2001%2016%20(38)-L.jpg

6. Another shot of what may or may not be the same bird

2022%2001%2016%20(33)-L.jpg

 

And just for the fun of it and as a thank you, I give a few thousand Dunlin seen in between the two marinas at Bottle Beach State Park, about two hours past high tide yesterday, which is optimal timing. It walked the beach 20 minutes prior and there was one gull. Then boom, over 400 Marbled Godwit, 1000s of Dunlin, Black-bellied Plover, Sanderling, and a Merlin chasing them all around. Birding is so much research, skill and...good luck on timing. :classic_laugh: Apologies for video quality. Video is so NOT my thing obvious.

 

 

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Just my guesses to get things going (wait for more & better opinions please):

1. Intermediate (Clarks/Western Grebe) (not saying hybrid, just saying I can't tell which, so leaving the duality)

2. Western w/intermediate.

3 - 6. Western.

(I feel like they all could be Westerns honestly, but since there is some ambiguity in the aforementioned "intermediates", perhaps a better birder can help shine some additional light on these for us).

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I’d feel comfortable calling the first one a Clark’s. Bill is pretty bright yellow, the white completely goes over the eye, and the flanks are very pale. 

In the second photo the left bird is definitely a Western. The right bird is probably just a western with less black in the eye instead of a hybrid. Other than the facial pattern, nothing else really suggests it being a hybrid. 
 

The third bird is the most promising foe a hybrid in my opinion. It shows some definite Clark’s features such as pale flanks (compare with the bird in image four) and the traditional bright orangey bill. It also has some Western features, such as the thick black area on the neck. The facial pattern is pretty intermediate, which is also a good sign for a hybrid. It could be an unusually dark Clark’s though. I’ll attach a photo below of the only confirmed hybird I’ve seen. It was definitely more intermediate than this bird.
 2400?__hstc=264660688.fdfca76c0eef3931a1

The bird in 4 and the left bird in image five are definitely Westerns. The right bird in the 5th image could be a Clark’s, but I could also see it as a paler western and wouldn’t call it from this angle. 

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Okay, I'm asking as someone who's never seen either.  In the second photo, it looks like the left bird's eye is pushed forward much closer to the base of the bill than the right bird.  It also looks like Lefty has a bit of a curve to the bill that isn't present in Righty.

If I'm seeing these correctly, are they indicative of one species over the other?

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1 minute ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Okay, I'm asking as someone who's never seen either.  In the second photo, it looks like the left bird's eye is pushed forward much closer to the base of the bill than the right bird.  It also looks like Lefty has a bit of a curve to the bill that isn't present in Righty.

If I'm seeing these correctly, are they indicative of one species over the other?

I think that’s just the angle of its head facing away from the camera.

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11 hours ago, IKLland said:
Quote
Quote

 

 

Apparently I hit the quote button at some point and can't seem to remove it, but thanks to all of you for the advice and help, it is greatly appreciated! I learned a lot from pointing out the differences with the bills and flanks, and the question asked above was a good one!

Got my new life bird today, a Slaty-backed Gull, and managed to not get hit by the trucks going by on highway while standing on the should and not get sprayed by the liquid fertilizer spreader working the field, so all and all, a win!

Happy birding all!

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