Tuesday, 11 January 2011
Red-necked Grebe at Fairhaven Lake
January 11: 2011:
This juvenile Red-necked Grebe had been at the lake for several days now. It was quite a confiding bird and would occasionally come close to the side despite people walking by. Being a juvenile its was not as colourfully marked as the summer adults of course but several distinctive characters were evident such as the reddish-brown colouration to the neck, the yellow base to the bill, and the typical 'powder puff' appearance of its rear end. It was larger bird than a Little Grebe but noticeably smaller than a Great Crested Grebe.
It spent much of its time diving, sometimes successfully, but at one point carried out a prolonged period of preening and flapping when almost every one of its feathers seemed to have been examined.
On another occasion it was distracted from its diving when surfacing close to a floating white feather discarded by a gull. This seemed to provide a great fascination as it spent several minutes picking it up and throwing it about as if playing with it.
Red-necked Grebes are mainly birds of northern latitudes, those arriving here will have come from northern-central Europe. They are a scarce winter visitor which are thought to nest occasionally in the U.K. but at localities which are kept secret.
Other than the resident Mallard, there was also a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers fishing on the lake. Presumably it's a good feeding spot for diving birds.