The juvenile Great Crested Grebes at The Regent’s Park are too big to be carried on their parents’ backs now. They’ve been used to hitching a ride but now they’re almost fully grown. They still have their juvenile markings, with outline-breaking camouflage stripes:
They’ve developed that elegant neck curve and the tufts of head feathers which will become their distinctive head crest.
A little further along the water I spot a younger one. This one still has its baby plumage, with fluffy feathers which get waterlogged easily, more distinct striped markings and a small red patch on its head:
It’s still cute and yet to become elegant.
There’s just a hint of the bird it will become as it powers up in the water using its feet as paddles, stretches its neck and beats its baby wings:
Its primary wing feathers have yet to fully develop. I can see them just unfolding. It ‘peeps’ piteously, begging for food from its parents who are powerless to resist it.
It’ll soon be fully independent from its parents. They are much more wary, but I spot one across the lake.
They are stunning.