For a few days each spring the delightful Slavonian Grebe, Podiceps auritus can be seen in a few harbours around the UK before it moves inland to selected lochs and lakes where it will spend the spring and summer and hopefully breed. There are roughly 40 breeding pairs each year so this is a species that is closely monitored by the RSPB.
There was a report of three birds in the City Quay at Dundee harbour, so I seized the opportunity to go down and have a look. The City Quay is quite a busy area, surrounded by a busy main road, hotel and restaurants, but it does offer calm sheltered waters to any birds seeking refuge. And, as we’d had such a rough spring, I couldn’t blame the birds for taking it easy for a couple of days.
Typically, the light was against me (snow and wind being the general pattern) but I did manage to get a few shots and some video, which shows there typical behaviour as diving birds. Still in winter plumage they will transform over the next month into breeding plumage which turns them into the best dressed grebe in UK waters. The whiter bird is displaying winter colours and the browner birds are showing the start of their breeding plumage.
One of the best places to view these birds in their full breeding glory is at Loch Ruthven in the Highlands, where if you are fortunate you can admire the beautiful dance of a mating ritual that involves them almost walking on water and mirroring its partners actions. Something I’ve not been fortunate to see yet, but that’s another post.
Click here to watch the video: http://youtu.be/h-bKKVxWA_E
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