Black-necked grebes near Tamworth

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.

Black-necked grebe, with the more familiar great-crested grebe for comparison.

Black-necked grebe, with the more familiar great-crested grebe for comparison.

Two of the black-necked grebes at Dosthill Water Park

Two of the black-necked grebes at Dosthill Lake

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!

The gaggle of three huddle together, while the fourth departs in the opposite direction.

The gaggle of three huddle together, while the fourth departs in the opposite direction.

The triad of black-necked grebes

The triad of black-necked grebes

4 thoughts on “Black-necked grebes near Tamworth

  1. Lovely. We’ve just had over 5 inches of rain in 28 hours so there is standing water in many fields (and back yards). In one flooded field yesterday I saw 12 shoveler ducks and 6 yellowlegs (not sure if greater or lesser).

    • That’s very cool! Seems like a lovely area – looking on the map there seemed to be a lot of wildlife-friendly places near there. How many churches do you look after?

  2. Pingback: A year in grebes! | Notes from the river bank

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