Opportunism

While it remains dry, a series of heavy storms in late January has at least provided an opportunity for some local species to breed. A pair of Australasian Grebes constructed a floating nest on this dam in the Muckleford bush; nest-building in this species can occur at any time of year when triggered by flooding, although they will also breed on permanent water during the spring.

A fall of more than 50mm transformed the dam overnight from bone dry to full and the grebes arrived, seemingly from nowhere. Their size and demeanour gives no real clue to their amazing flying capabilities, or their ability to find a tiny water body in the middle of dense bush. You can only presume that it was spied from high up on the wing. While the mystery remains, there is no question about their success – three small chicks with their distinctive striped appearance are now trailing one of their parents around the dam. Only one adult was present, although there was a pair about a week ago.

AG1

Australasian Grebe (adult), South German Track, 25th March 2016.

AG2

The three young grebes.

AG3

Take note of the striped appearance – perfect camouflage.

AG4

Adult with youngster.

AG5

Almost the entire family.

AG8

A handsome and striking bird when seen close up.

AG7

This, I suspect, was the nest site.

AG6

The adult about to dive.

5 responses to “Opportunism

  1. Gorgeous wee youngsters, the rain has been wonderful, a little water makes such a difference! thanks Geoff.

  2. I recall seeing a family years ago with the tiny chick’s sitting on the parent’s back tucked under its wings. Beautiful bird.

  3. Most Aussie Grebes nests I have seen have been constructed of piled up aquatic plant material, particularly Red Water-milfoil; nothing like your grebes there. I suppose they are indeed opportunists and will use whatever is around

    • Hi Damien – that’s my experience too – it seems that as the dam had filled from empty there wasn’t time for any aquatic plants to be available and the grebes made do with small sticks and pieces of Cassinia – very adaptable!
      Cheers, geoff

  4. Such beautiful birds!

    On Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 9:46 AM, Natural Newstead wrote:

    > Geoff Park posted: “While it remains dry, a series of heavy storms in late > January has at least provided an opportunity for some local species to > breed. A pair of Australasian Grebes constructed a floating nest on this > dam in the Muckleford bush; nest-building in this specie” >

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