Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Weather Loach. Weather What?

After Eric Peterson and I relocated and photographed the Great Gray Owl in northern Utah earlier this month we decided to drop by Farmington Bay WMA for a quick look before heading in to work. A group of Pied-billed Grebes caught our interest because we could see that they were diving for prey. We watched a number of grebes emerge from their shallow dives with small fish. A couple of the grebes emerged with prey only to be mobbed by other grebes wanting to steal the meal. One grebe was diving in an area by itself and came up with a Weather Loach, an eel-like fish that, while not indigenous to Utah, has become somewhat common in the marshes of Farmington Bay.  Weather Loaches are native to Asia, but they are common in the pet trade in the United States. I've read that they are sometimes used as bait fish as well. One way or another people have introduced the hardy species to Farmington Bay--and the loaches seem to be thriving based on the number of times they've been observed in the bills of carnivorous water birds at "the Bay".

It was fun to watch the grebe grapple with the flopping fish. The fish, of course, simply wanted to escape the death grip of the grebe's bill. The Grebe, of course, was trying to manipulate the fish into a position where it could be gulped down head first.

Pied-billed Grebe with Weather Loach at Farmington Bay WMA, Davis County, Utah, USA

Pied-billed Grebe with Weather Loach at Farmington Bay WMA, Davis County, Utah, USA

Pied-billed Grebe with Weather Loach at Farmington Bay WMA, Davis County, Utah, USA

Pied-billed Grebe with Weather Loach at Farmington Bay WMA, Davis County, Utah, USA

Pied-billed Grebe with Weather Loach at Farmington Bay WMA, Davis County, Utah, USA

Pied-billed Grebe with Weather Loach at Farmington Bay WMA, Davis County, Utah, USA

Pied-billed Grebe with Weather Loach at Farmington Bay WMA, Davis County, Utah, USA

Pied-billed Grebe with Weather Loach at Farmington Bay WMA, Davis County, Utah, USA

Pied-billed Grebe with Weather Loach at Farmington Bay WMA, Davis County, Utah, USA
Well, the grebe won. I tried to switch my camera to video mode so I could capture the final seconds of the loach's mortal struggle. Unfortunately, the grebe swallowed the loach before I could make that switch and get focused. Maybe next time.

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