Saturday, 21 April 2012

Grebe Day Out

Last week I turned up to see the Garganey at Tophill Low only for them to have moved on over night. Yesterday I was anxious that the same may happen with the Black-Necked Grebes that had arrived at North Cave Wetlands. So I decided to hit the road early before the day warmed up.

On arrival my first sighting was of two posturing Great Created Grebes, performing in front of each other in anticipation of raising a brood of stripy youngsters. Then, with all present and correct on the Main Lake and easily seen from South Hide, were the three Black-Necked Grebes. I have seen this species before but in the autumn when the plumage is much less vibrant. These birds all displayed the golden yellow head feathers, and clearly had the red eye that they are known for. Two of the birds seemed to have paired up, while the other kept well out of the way. The relationship between the paired birds seemed very strong, with both performing synchronised diving and making sharp “peeps” if the other was more than ten yards away.

A "flotilla" of BNG?

Paired up BNG

Where have you gone?

Back together again - male on the right?
South Hide began to fill, and as I had been given two close passes by the “pair”, I decided to move on. The rest of the reserve was dominated by very noisy Black-Headed Gulls ready to breed. I am sure that there are more this year than before, but when there is plenty of food about and very few predators, it is perhaps not surprising that success rates are high. The Avocets have returned in good numbers, but I’m sure they won’t be as successful - awful parents!

Avocets in open formation
Coming back to the grebes, North Cave was able to boast not only Black-Necked and Great Crested varieties, but also the ubiquitous Coot and Moorhen, as well as the less common Little Grebe. Almost a full house! Wouldn't that be something to see.

Coot on incubation duties

Resplendant Great Crested Grebe

Distant Little Grebe
Other birds of note were the returning Swallows and Sand Martins, Willow Warblers (at least a dozen singing males around the reserve), numerous Reed Buntings, and a few Blackcaps.

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