My first sight of a ‘dabchick’

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

IN spring and sum­mer my col­leagues sug­gest that I am out and about a lot more than in au­tumn and win­ter.

I am ac­tu­ally out of the of­fice quite a lot in the colder months but wrapped up nicely in my trendy Lan­cashire Wildlife Trust fleece.

It is well worth me wan­der­ing around. In the past I prob­a­bly wouldn’t have no­ticed half of the things I spot now, be­cause my thirst for knowl­edge has in­creased ev­ery day I have worked at the trust.

Some days I just take de­light in some of our more com­mon wildlife.

I am al­ways de­lighted by the sight of duck­lings on the lo­cal lodge and young star­lings when they get a feed­ing ed­u­ca­tion on our shed.

Ev­ery so of­ten I see some­thing I haven’t seen be­fore, of­ten with­out re­al­is­ing. This hap­pened on a day out to a wet­land re­serve the other af­ter­noon, Lunt Mead­ows in Mersey­side.

The only things on show were a cou­ple of coots and a lap­wing, which was just out of range of my cam­era lens.

Then I saw a tiny duck, about a third the size of the coot.

It was a dark bird, with a red­dish neck and I could see a white mark around its beak.

I came across a lo­cal birder who in­formed me that I had just seen my first lit­tle grebe.

It is our small­est grebe and is known to many peo­ple as a ‘dabchick’, which I think is lovely.

Once you get close to them they are easy to recog­nise be­cause of the bright chest­nut throat and cheeks.

A dabchick’s call is very sim­i­lar to a horse whin­ny­ing and for a small bird it can ac­tu­ally make quite a lot of noise.

An­other cute thing about lit­tle grebes is the fact that they use float­ing plat­forms of wa­ter weeds as a per­fect base for their nests.

These beau­ti­ful birds are found on canals, rivers and lakes through­out the coun­try, so the fact that I haven’t seen one be­fore is down to my own ig­no­rance re­ally.

The Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side is ded­i­cated to the pro­tec­tion and pro­mo­tion of the wildlife in Lan­cashire, seven bor­oughs of Greater Manch­ester and four of Mersey­side, all ly­ing north of the River Mersey.

It man­ages around 40 na­ture re­serves and 20 Lo­cal Na­ture Re­serves cov­er­ing acres of wood­land, wet­land, up­land and meadow. The trust has 27,000 mem­bers, and over 1,200 vol­un­teers.

To be­come a trust mem­ber, go to lanc­swt. or call 01772 324129. For more in­for­ma­tion about Cheshire Wildlife Trust, call 01948 820728 or visit cheshire

Darin Smith

●● The lit­tle grebe is our small­est

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