Andrew kelly Wildlife and Landscape Photography

The Private Life of The Great Crested Grebe


The Private Life of The Great Crested Grebe

(Click on Images to enlarge, then click on each image to go to the next image more easily.)


Great Crested Grebe


Great Crested Grebe in Aggressive Pose


Grebes Begin Courting


Grebes Courting


Grebes Head Shaking


Grebes Habit Preening


Grebe in Cat Display


Grebe in Cat Display with Mate in Penguin Display


Great Crested Grebes Coupling on Raft



Great Crested Grebes Doing Reed Dance

  Grebes in Reed Dance, notice Ruff Display and Erect Ear-Tuffs  


  Great Crested Grebes Fighting   Great Crested Grebes Move Together in a Quiet Moment  


From their dazzling red eyes to the warm chestnut hues of their plumage, the Great Crested Grebe must certainly be the most impressive of our diving birds.

It's not just their good looks that make them special, once a year the breeding pairs perform a range of courtship displays that is surely the most impressive wildlife spectacle in Ireland.

The grebes have a number of bonding and courtship ceremonies, the best known being the "Reed" or "Penguin" Dance. Most of these ceremonies are preceded by bouts of head-shaking and habit-preening accompanied by raising of the ear-tufts and puffing of the ruff.

In the Reed dance, both birds dive and surface carrying soft-reed. With heads held low to the water, they rapidly swim towards each other and just before they collide, they rise abruptly from the water and dance breast to breast. Only the feet remain in the water, as the pair work hard to stay above the water and defy gravity.

It is such an amazing sight and everyone who is interested in wildlife or birds should try to see this. It can be seen on lakes all across the country in April. If you are uinterested in reading a comprehensive description of the behaviour, you should read Julian Huxley's account, written in 1914 (available 2nd hand).
I hope you enjoy the pictures.