The Third Ladybird Book of British Birds – #17 The Great Crested Grebe
I’m currently reading the third volume of the Ladybird Book of British Birds and their nests from the 1950s.
Times have changed:
The Great Crested Grebe (you can see the crest in the picture) is a bird of the lakes, reservoirs and large ponds. It flies very little, but is an expert diver, and can stay under the water for half-a-minute or more, swimming a long way as it searches for fish.
I’ve yet to see one fly for long enough that I can take its photograph. That would be great. They’re normally out just fishing (you can see the crest in the picture):
The nest is made of water weeds and is usually placed amongst growing reeds in the water. When the bird comes off the eggs to feed, she covers them over with weeds, so the eggs soon become stained and dirty.
As a child I drew this image of a Great Crested Grebe for my nature notebooks. In the reeds is where it was:
The nests are usually far away and difficult to photograph without getting wet. Sometimes they come and fish right in front of you, though. I’m not sure the fish was too impressed:
The mother takes the very young chicks for rides on her back, but they can dive when only six weeks old, and by the time the chicks are ten weeks old they can look after themselves.
That’s a very brief window of time to be around them and get those cute chick-on-the-back photographs. Maybe this year?
They also do spearfishing:
They always brighten my day.
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