Sunday, 14 June 2009

Grebe-oh Guru

Max is in the middle of his A-Levels at the moment, which is - I suppose - a perfectly valid reason for him not having done any bloggo stuff for yonks. However he has managed to sneak out a few times to sit in his car and listen to Tarkus with a peculiar look on his face, and occasionall to do a little bit of bird watching. He usually takes his camera with him, and over the last few months has built up a fantastic library of images of the wildlife of the Wells region of Somerset. Here, in a new series, are some of them...

Whilst out at a local reservoir checking out the local birds, I saw a pair of Great Crested Grebes. These are the largest British grebes (adults are usually 1200g in weight), though not the largest in the world , they are still impressive birds. Fire-red head tufts, often extended upon meeting another grebe, are their most impressive feature (other than their stupendous diving abilities) and form an integral part of their mating display. The male and female erect the tufts and begin to dance around each other, each doing the same as the other. So, if the male moves his head to the left, so does the female. If the female moves her head back to the right, so does the male. Note: this is NOT a mirror image!

The grebes swam closer to my vantage position, and, causing annoyance to a nearby fisherman, began to display. This was great for me, and I started snapping away. Behind me, an elderly couple walked past and the gentleman (as indeed, he was) exclaimed

“How brilliant! Crested grebes displaying. Go on son, get in there!”

The last part was yelled directly at the male grebe, who then zipped under water. Bugger, thought I , that is the end of them displaying at such close range.

The male popped back up again just as I began to wander off, with a large piece of weed in his beak. He began to display to an impressed female, and again the gentleman got overly excited and shouted “That’s the stuff lad! You are going to get some tonight!” His wife told him sharply to shut up before chatting to me about the camera.

Only when I got home did I realise that the photos were so out of focus (I have now learnt from this mistake, and have changed the autofocus point), so I must apologise for it!

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