Your Bird­ing Month

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents -

Our five birds to find in Au­gust in­clude Tree Spar­row and Cross­bill

THERE ARE FIVE species of grebe which reg­u­larly oc­cur in the UK, all of which may at­tempt to breed. The Great Crested and Lit­tle Grebes are com­mon and very wide­spread. Slavo­nian Grebes are scarce High­land nesters, and Red-necked Grebes have oc­ca­sion­ally at­tempted, but rarely suc­ceeded, in breed­ing. The gor­geous Black-necked Grebe fits into the scarce but reg­u­lar cat­e­gory, with prob­a­bly fewer than 40 pairs breed­ing across the whole coun­try. The tiny breed­ing pop­u­la­tion is widely scat­tered but with a gen­eral trend of be­ing along the cen­tral spine of Eng­land. They favour shal­low eu­trophic lakes with lots of veg­e­ta­tion to hide in, both around edge and float­ing on the sur­face. They are fre­quently associated with Black-headed Gull colonies. For ob­vi­ous rea­sons, most breed­ing sites in the UK are wisely kept se­cret. How­ever, Wool­ston Eyes, Cheshire, is well known for them and is the site to visit if you want to see breed­ing Black-necked Grebes in ac­tion. In May 2014, for ex­am­ple, there were per­haps 11 pairs there, which raised at least 15 fledg­ing young. In win­ter, when they are more wide­spread, though still scarce around our coasts, they are es­sen­tially black and white birds. But in the sum­mer, they are sim­ply gor­geous in their fin­ery of black and chest­nut with a glo­ri­ous splash of golden feath­er­ing on their cheeks. So, now is the best time to ap­pre­ci­ate one of our most hand­some breed­ing birds.

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