After the kingfisher project. I was looking for something else locally.

I was informed of another location locally where Great Crested Grebes could be seen. I knew that this was the time of year with a little luck and planning that you could capture images of their courtship display.

Great Crested Grebes became my new project.

The great crested grebe has an elaborate mating display. Like all grebes, it nests on the water’s edge, since its legs are set relatively far back and it is thus unable to walk very well. Usually two eggs are laid, and the fluffy, striped young grebes are often carried on the adult’s back. In a clutch of two or more hatchlings, male and female grebes will each identify their ‘favourites’, which they alone will care for and teach.

Unusually, young grebes are capable of swimming and diving almost at hatching. The adults teach these skills to their young by carrying them on their back and diving, leaving the chicks to float on the surface; they then re-emerge a few feet away so that the chicks may swim back onto them.

The great crested grebe feeds mainly on fish, but also small crustaceans, insects, small frogs and newts.

In spring, displaying great crested grebes put on a spectacular display on lakes, reservoirs and gravel pits over most of Britain.

On my first visit I was able to capture a few images of the Grebes fishing, but no courtship behaviour. It was still incredible to view and photograph these beautiful birds, however I hoped that over time I would get the shots that I wanted.

I returned for a couple of weeks and captured more images of the Grebe individually and fishing, but on the 4th week I was able to finally get the courtship display.

Both sexes grow black and orange facial ruffs and black ear-tufts known as tippets, which they use in a special ceremony to establish their bonds in the breeding season.

Facing each other, the grebes flick their heads from side to side or slide towards each other, low in the water like crocodiles.

The climax of their ritual is the weed dance in which both birds, holding tufts of water weeds in their bills, paddle furiously to maintain an upright position chest to chest; an unforgettable sight and an impressive display of stamina.

Over a 5 week period I was able to view and capture some images of this ritual. I will definitely continue to visit to see if I can capture the chicks when they are born.

Another amazing wildlife spectacle right on my doorstep!!

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