Tamworth may not seem like the obvious spot for unusual breeding birds, but there are a number of lakes near the River Tame. One of these is Dosthill Lake, which is part water-ski centre and part nature reserve, on which four rather stunning black-necked grebes settled this week.
Each year they undergo a remarkable transformation from their winter colour scheme of white, grey and black, into their breeding finery of black, chestnut and a pair of striking yellow ear-tufts. Unfortunately we don’t often get to see this change, as only a few winter here and even fewer breed: these islands are the extreme western end of their European breeding range, which centers on Eastern Europe.
The domestic arrangements of the 4 at Dosthill seemed complicated: there is an obvious pair into which a third regularly appears, while a fourth is an occasional visitor at best. This is shown below, and if they weren’t grebes, I’d think the fourth was leaving in a huff!