Lake Almanor will be the place to be as we celebrate the extraordinary “dancing” grebes with our inaugural Grebe Festival centered in Chester, CA. Western and Clark’s Grebes (Aechmophorus occidentalis and A. clarkii) nest on Lake Almanor which is considered an Important Bird Area by National Audubon and which has grown in its importance as a breeding site for these grebes in recent years as drought has caused loss of nesting habitat elsewhere. Late August is a great time to view the grebes as they are still nesting on the lake in colonies, racing across the water in their incredible “rushing” displays, and when some babies are hatching and climbing aboard their parents’ backs.
Plumas Audubon Society is putting together a diverse assortment of activities for all to enjoy during the Festival. We’ll start things off with a Grebe Research Symposium on Friday for those interested in the more scientific aspect of the grebes, their ecology, and conservation. This will be followed up in the evening with a lighter take on things as folks can partake in the Beer Stroll around Old Towne Chester to benefit Plumas Audubon Society and our partner sponsor, Feather River Land Trust.
Saturday and Sunday will be filled with adventure, culture, and education with a variety of fieldtrips, workshops, and activities. There will be multiple pontoon and kayak tours running throughout the days on the lake to get a closer (but not too close!) view of Western and Clark’s Grebes on their floating nests. These tours will also be excellent opportunities to see other great waterbirds such as American White Pelican, White-faced Ibis, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Red-necked Phalarope, Common Tern, Sabine’s Gull, and Red-necked Grebe, along with a rich diversity of ducks and shorebirds.
Other fieldtrip highlights include tours around Chester Meadows and the historic Olsen Barn property, recently purchased by Feather River Land Trust to conserve this undeveloped, scenic meadow for wildlife and public access. The North Fork of the Feather River riparian corridor and confluence with the lake will have good birding and an odeing fieldtrip to search for dragonflies will head to Willow Lake. A unique opportunity to visit a part of the ancestral homelands of the Mountain Maidu, Humbug Valley, or Tasmam Koyom as the Maidu refer to it, will offer excellent wildlife viewing and cultural education in this scenic mountain meadow, “the first Maidu national park”. More fieldtrips in surrounding areas will offer a wide selection of birding and other wildlife viewing, botany, history and culture to experience.
In addition to the fieldtrips we will be screening two new documentaries: "The Messenger", a visually stunning take on our deep connection with birds, the human-made perils to songbirds around the globe, and what the decline of songbirds means for us as a species; and “Searching for Gold Spot: The Wild After Wildfire” a film bringing to light the importance of fire to montane (mountain) forests and wildlife of the American West, blending a visually exquisite celebration of wilderness with awareness of the challenges involved with saving it.
We will be having a number of talks and workshops for all ages, such as "How to Draw a Better Bird", and we will also host a silent auction for some beautiful bird art, including some Bill Peters prints, at the Almanor Recreation Center (ARC). A youth art exhibit with original artwork from our Grebe Festival Art Contest will adorn the walls of the ARC during the Festival, where we will also have educational information available and free children's activities.
Registration is now OPEN! Check out our fieldtrips and activities at www.plumasaudubon.org/grebe-festivalWe hope you can join us for this fun weekend full of birding, boating, research, culture, art, and more!