Kip’s Comments 10-24-20

Horned Grebe in Non-breeding Plumage - Image 659825 (© Kip Ladage)

 

Value-added Learning

Some of you may know that one of the responsibilities in my job is to assist with missing person searches. Over the years I have been a part of many search efforts – some with happy outcomes and some ending with sadness. During each response I learn something…maybe a new technique, perhaps a tool to try…I learn something.     

During several responses I have recognized the need for detailed sonar when searching bodies of water. I bought a down sonar for personal use a couple of years ago that I would not hesitate to put to work for a missing person search. Down sonar is good, but there are more options to consider – such as side-sonar and Panoptix.   

Recently I received a grant to apply toward the purchase of equipment needed to assemble a mobile sonar kit consisting of traditional, down, and side sonar. I built the kit in a way that the equipment can be used on a boat or in a kayak. I made it as portable as possible while still making it practical. (Note – My grant did not cover the cost of Panoptix equipment (almost an underwater camera). I welcome any donations to add that feature!)   

This morning was spent learning how to use the various sonar modes in an area that was deep enough to work well and had underwater structure to search for using the sonar. At 24-degrees I was out paddling on Big Woods Lake in my kayak as I studied the bottom of the pond. I am cautiously optimistic that, if needed, I could put the technology to work for a real-life incident. I would prefer more practice, but I do think I could get the most out of the kit.   

So where was the value-added part of testing a sonar system? As I was paddling my kayak I noticed birds on the water. The birds’ distinctly different coloration immediately caught my attention. I could tell I was looking at grebes, but which species? It wasn’t until I returned home and could use reference material that I realized I had photographed three horned grebes in non-breeding plumage! Even in their drab colors they are pretty birds.

Horned Grebe in Non-breeding Plumage - Image 659825 (© Kip Ladage)

Horned Grebe in Non-breeding Plumage – Image 659825 (© Kip Ladage)

 

Horned Grebes in Non-breeding Plumage - Image 659892 (© Kip Ladage)

Horned Grebes in Non-breeding Plumage – Image 659892 (© Kip Ladage)

 

For reference purposes I am going to share a picture of a horned grebe in breeding plumage.

Horned Grebe at Sweet Marsh - Image 315547

Horned Grebe at Sweet Marsh – Image 315547

 

Other species present today were ruddy ducks and a bufflehead or two.

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