Today I got a late start and didn’t get to the Bash until 9am. As I arrived on Haven Road (still under water) I saw Peter Schoenberger and his friend Susan just coming in by kayak. Peter informed me they had seen many birds, including three LEAST BITTERNS. He explained where he had them and I decided to try to see them as well as many of the others, as they were all in an area I hadn’t covered yesterday. I put my kayak in at the Main Boat Launch and headed toward Haven Road. I immediatley realized that the water was deeper than yesterday and that I could navigate areas I would not normally be able to. I worked my way through the many small islands, seeing many Moorhens, (16 today) about half of which I would not have seen yesterday. As I reached the channel again, I noticed something floating in open water about 200 yrds from me on the other side of the kill. It struck me as a possible Pied-billed Grebes nest. As I reached the half way mark to it, I noticed a Pied-billed Grebe about 150 feet from it to the right. As I neared the nest I spotted one egg in it. I photographed it and checked it out. It was dark inside and clearly not a viable egg. As I looked back to the PGB, I realized it had a tiny chick riding on its back. As I watched in amazement through my bins, I saw her dive with the chick on her back and come up some 50ft away with the chick intact! I watched for a while when they went behind some vegetation. When she came out, the chick was not on her back. She swam around for a couple of minutes when the chick suddenly swam out and joined her. I was able to get one poor long distance shot. This is the first confirmed breeding of PBG at the Bash since before the ’05/’06 floods that pushed them out as a breeding species.
As I went on, I found the American Coot from the past week. I observed it at length, but saw no other birds nor heard any vocalizations. I will keep an eye on the situation. As I headed back, I found a pair of Least Bittern in a bush. I believe this is the pair Peter had seen, as they were not far from where he mentioned. I never reached the area where he had the third bird. If I am correct, by counts and locations, there are probably four pairs of LB at the Bash, at least one of which has bred successfully this year. Upon my return to the boat launch, Ed Morse informed me that a Virginia Rail family passed the kiosks a short time before. There were two adults and several chicks (heard more than seen). A great day for the target marsh birds we monitor so closely.