Author Vicky Whitaker
Named for their elaborate head feathers, look out for these elegant aquatic birds performing their spectacular courtship dance on lakes, ponds and reservoirs.
- Great crested grebes were almost hunted out of existence during the Victorian period for their attractive head plumes, which were popular adornments on ladies hat trimmings and other clothing.
- Great crested grebes dive for fish and aquatic invertebrates, chasing prey under water by strongly swimming with their feet. They also prefer to dive to avoid predators rather than fly. On land they are clumsy creatures as their feet are placed far back on their bodies.
- Their mating display starts with head shaking beak-to-beak and culminates with both birds paddling furiously to raise themselves out of the water, breast-to-breast, to present each other with a piece of pond weed.
- After pairing, they nest either in a hidden mound of reeds or on a floating platform made up of waterweed. The zebra-striped chicks hatch early in summer and are often carried on the backs of their parents.
[dropshadowbox align="none" effect="lifted-both" width="100%" height="" background_color="#f9fad0" border_width="1" border_color="#dddddd" ]Our nature reserve at Burton Mill Pond in West Sussex is a good place to spot these elegant birds. Let us know if you see any interesting wildlife sightings when you’re out and about. You can ring Sussex Wildlife Trust’s free hotline, WildCall, on 01273 494777 or alternatively visit the advice pages on our website[/dropshadowbox]