Thursday, 28 May 2015

Day 206 - Graciously Calm, Great, Great Crested Grebes - The Sequel

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps crtstatus) in breeding plumage
Hi all today's Day 206 and, as you know, yesterday I was on the radio being interviewed by Steve Bailey. While I was at York, me and my Dad thought we might as well go and look for some wildlife. Luckily we knew the perfect place to do this. I went to an RSPB members weekend at York University. Yes, it may be a university but they have some lakes with lots of wildlife on them. One of these things is the beautiful Great Crested Grebe.

On the nest 
I had seen them on a nest on the RSPB weekend and wanted to go back and see if there were any greeblings, and even better if I could see any riding on their parents back They were very hard to photograph as they were mainly sheltering under a huge Willow Tree but we persevered and got some photos anyway. I did cover these birds back on Day 68 but I hadn't really done them justice as I'd only managed shots of a non-breeding juvenile. I hope these photo's and facts are a bit better.

So, here are the facts:
  • They are resident in the UK and we have about 5,000 breeding pairs, they are happily Green Status. In the winter we get more of them visiting and there are around 23,000.
  • One of the great things about these birds is their courtship display, this is a video I found on youtube. I linked this on Day 68 but it is wonderful and I think is worth watching again.
  • If you watch this video you'll think they are very elegant, which they are on water, but because their feet are really far back on their bodies they are quite clumsy on land.
Off out with a parent
  • There isn't any data on typical lifespan but the oldest Great Crested Grebe was recorded as 11 years, 10 months and 5 days old.
  • They start breeding at 2 years old and they lay three to four eggs which weigh around 40g each
  • Greeblings hatch around a month later and can swim and dive almost immediately.  
Hiding under the willow
  • I missed the really cute stage where they ride on their parents backs whilst the other parent hunt and feeds them.
  • Greeblings can feed themselves from about 8 weeks old.
  • If you read my last post you'll know it wasn't always like this as their short, dense waterproof feathers were used by the Victorians like fur and they were nearly hunted to extinction.
  • The Victorians weren't all that bad. In 1889 a group of women formed the 'Fur, Fin and Feather Group' to stop the deaths of birds just for clothing.
  • Within one year, the group had over 5000 members. From 1904 onwards this group gathered over 1 million members and turned into the RSPB.
So if you want to find out more about these lovely birds try these sites:

Hope you enjoyed,


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