Submitted by Piers Strailey
After a two-year interruption due to Covid and fires, Plumas Audubon Society offered Plumas County residents and visitors an abbreviated version of its annual Grebe Festival at Lake Almanor on Aug. 6.
At least 80 people visited Feather River Land Trust’s Olsen barn, where information booths and displays about conservation and recreational opportunities had been set up by local organizations such as Mountain Meadows Conservancy, Almanor Recreation and Parks District, and Lake Almanor Watershed Group. Live music, a silent auction, food, and grebe-themed games were available. At least 32 people took advantage of guided kayak tours on the lake for a closer look at nesting sites, while 20 participated in shoreline bird walks.
Plumas Audubon Operations Director Liz Ramsey offered a history of the event and Audubon’s efforts on behalf of grebes. She then introduced the prototype of a man-made nesting platform. If successful, such platforms may make it possible for these unique birds to survive PG&E’s sudden, drastic lake water level reductions, which have often doomed unhatched eggs and chicks.
Even without the platforms ready to try on a significant scale yet, this year may be a good one for grebes. With one of the largest number of individuals recorded in over ten years of monitoring, and many breeding pairs working on building nests, a stable water level should lead to safe, successful hatching. Bird watchers who have witnessed the grebes’ beautiful top-of-the-water mating dance may soon be able to see hatchlings riding serenely on their parents’ backs until they mature enough to swim and eventually fly on their own.
Plumas Audubon Society is optimistic that 2022 will be a successful year for Almanor grebes and hopes that local support, grant funding, and responsible, compassionate lake management by PG&E will make a full-weekend festival possible in years to come.
For more information about grebes and the many projects with which Plumas Audubon is involved, please visit its website:plumasaudubon.org.