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My Five Years Filming the Great Crested Grebe

Stanley Park in Blackpool was the first location that I found the Great Crested Greebe.

From my first sighting to the present day the bird just fascinated me with the different types of behaviour, from diving for fish, chasing unwanted visitors away and the mating Dance or ritual.

The bird can go from a large object rising out of the water to a very sleek looking torpedo moving quickly over the water. From the fist time I spotted it I knew that it would take hours of observing the bird to get the images.

The DIve for Fish

Watching it for a week or so was very interesting.

As the Grebe dived, I timed the time from diving to coming up to the surface. The time was about 14 seconds. As I waited for it I noticed small air bubbles coming to the surface and following them led me to the spot it came up.

The art of keeping concealed from the Grebe was another task – if it spotted you it would swim away to the middle of the lake. This is where I used the trees that were close to the water.

I would watch and run between the trees, crouch down and anticipate the area it would come up. First attempts were OK, but as time went on the results got better.

One thing the bird had a tendency to do was come up with a fish but turn away with it so as to have its back to me, so you have to be quick to capture it with the fish.

Reading about the bird made me aware of a mating ritual that the pair do at the beginning of the mating season. It happens very quickly and unless you are in the right place you will probably only see it in the distance in the middle of the lake.

On two occasions, by luck more than planning, I was to witness it and was very close to the action.

As I arrived at the lake, the Grebes turned away from each other and swam about 20 feet before both diving. I knew this was the moment and got ready.

They both raised up, the chests crashed together water spraying everywhere, mouths full of dead leaves. The presented the catch to each other and began to mimic each other. 15 seconds passed and it was over. I prayed my settings were OK.

The images above were from 2012 and it was not for another three years that I witnessed it again.

The image above was sent to Lancashire Life magazine before it stopped being published.

You can get many different images from this bird.

When the young are born they take cover in the adult feathers riding on the backs of both male and female. From this position, the other adult brings small fish in for the young. They tempt the young off the back of the adult eventually as they get older to slide into the water so they learn to swim.

I have so many images of the Grebe so maybe later I will post more with more tales from the lake.

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