Back when I photographed a pied-billed grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) with its crayfish breakfast, I said,
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that this bird species remains one of the most skittish animals one can encounter. The moment these grebes think there’s a threat, they vanish beneath the water’s surface and swim for all they’re worth, eventually surfacing some distance in a random direction.
Because the camera was in burst mode, those photographs were taken in a single second.
I had come upon the bird on an overcast morning. Walking along the water’s edge, the grebe surfaced—much to my surprise—and we both reacted, me by swinging the camera and snapping pictures, and the grebe by doing precisely what I expect them to do.
But something else I said in that grebe-and-crayfish post was this:
Pied-billed grebes over these past few years have grown predictable to me. If they vanish underwater, I usually know where to run so I can be right where they pop up. And I know they don’t like people, but what they dislike even more is moving people. That means once they see you, the best option is to freeze and hope for the best.
So after the moment captured above, I rushed headlong until I reached the spot where I thought the bird would surface. And lo:
Though not as near as I had hoped, at least it came up pretty much where I anticipated. And of course, surfacing to find it hadn’t outfoxed me meant the bird quickly paddled away, always watching, but this time not diving. Mainly because I didn’t move—and perhaps because diving hadn’t worked so well the first time.