Slavonian Grebe – Calendar Bird for November

To great excitement among the bird watching fraternity during the winter of 2019/20 a rare grebe turned up at Attenborough Nature Reserve and decided to stay. Only a handful breed in the UK but more than 1,000 visit in the winter. Obligingly, it mostly hung around the Visitor Centre allowing close up views and photographs.

These are some of my shots of this lovely, medium sized (62 cm wingspan) member of the grebe family in its winter, pre breeding plumage. The pandemic lockdown in March 2020 meant I had an enforced, 9 month break from birding so I did not see it in full breeding plumage before it moved on. Thankfully others were able to see it so in April and May and posted their images on the Notts Birders website. Here is the link https://www.nottsbirders.net/latest_galleries_2020.html. You will also see pictures of red necked and black necked grebe seen in Nottinghamshire, but not by me! 😦

Little grebe, however, are quite common at ANR. As the name implies they are small (42 cm wingspan). There are up to 5,000 resident breeding pairs swelled to many more by winter migrants. The left hand images are of males, top right is a female and bottom right my one and only image of a juvenile.

With a wingspan around 90cm the great crested grebe is considerably large than other grebes. It is the mascot of ANR which you may see on notices urging visitors to take their litter home, keep dogs under control etc. I’ve watched them dive for fish many times but I would be foolish to bet on where they will surface. With their powerful webbed feet set well back they swim further than you might think. Three of the photos above are of the family I observed over the spring and summer at Highfields that managed two broods. The top left image is of an unsuccessful nest built near the Visitor Centre at ANR. It was either predated or inundated by rising water levels.

Finally, a brief VIDEO CLIP of great crested grebe performing just a snatch of their pair bonding ritual observed from the bridge on the main path at ANR. I hope, one day, to record the whole performance. Happy November Folks.

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