I missed the actual lift off from the water, and you can see from the little splash that it was a dainty maneuver. I believe this trio was standing on a submerged log, not on the muddy pond floor, which likely would take more effort.
One big flap of the wings and he was up…
and away, leaving his pals behind.
As I’ve witnessed other times, he wasn’t going far after all that. He settled on the other side of a hummock and started to feed.
Donnelley Wildlife Management Area, SC
February 9, 2022