Action on the Water

A bird flying low across the water at speed is a photographer’s dream – if you’re in the right place at the right time.

I found the Great Crested Greebe back in 2012 at a park nearby, and it was the first bird on the water I researched and spent hours observing.

From fishing, to mating, to aggressive behaviour – it was so interesting.

My first real challenge was to capture the Greebe with a fish.

I watched it dive for a fish and timed it from when it submerged down below to swimming back up to the surface. I worked out it stayed under the water for 12 to 14 seconds. Also, it left an air bubble trail on the surface.

I also quickly found that if the Greebe spotted you, it would swim away into the middle of the lake.

I began to observe it from a distance, and by doing that I could monitor it as it came close to the bank of the lake.

They seemed to prefer the overhanging trees where the fish take shelter.

A few areas became a favourite place for the Greebe to fish, so I made sure to get into position shortly before they got there.

Greebe with fish

As I followed the Greebe ,I found a method of getting into the right position.

With the park having many trees close to the bank, that gave me cover to move when the Greebe went down to fish.

I quickly ran between the trees, hoping it would come up with a fish.

Greebe with a huge fish
Greebe turning the fish to swallow

The other Greebe image I wanted to capture was the famous Mating dance.

They meet in the lake, then turn and swim away for about 20 feet, then dive. They come up with dead leaves in their beaks and swim toward each other, then hit each other as they rise out of the water and dance, mimicking each other.

It was always going to be a case of right time, right place.

After watching them for three years, it happened.

Greebe Mating Dance

These latest images were in March 2020 when a Coot was getting close to the Greebe nest area.

I just knew the Greebe would come out low, but I didn’t know it would fly across the water. Amazing.

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