Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

Great Grebes

Monday, 12th February, 2007, Newmillerdam Country Park, Wakefield
grebeTHE HEAD-SHAKING DISPLAY of the great-crested grebe is for me the icon of our local natural history and back in the 1970s I designed this badge for the Wakefield Naturalist’s Society. Male and female face each other, necks arched, like heraldic beasts. They then go in for a session of sychronised preening, rolling over on the placid water to grown breast feathers.

grebeThere’s another pair of grebes swimming along together a hundred yards away lower down the lake, and, between the two territories, a lone bird.

grebesThe courtship displays of the grebe also included the presentation of a beakful of weed and what’s known as ‘the ghostly penguin dance’; something that I hope I’ll get to see some day.

You’d miss this behaviour if you didn’t get out at this time of year.