Great Crested Grebe
In September at the Big Swamp look out for the Great Crested Grebe. It's the largest of the Grebes and not especially common in south western wetlands. It has a long white neck with a very distinctive double crest on top of its head and black and chestnut frills on either side. These are more prominent during the breeding season. The rest of the body is brown with white underneath.
Their courtship display has some fascinating behaviour, ripple dives, presentation of weeds, swaying and entwining of necks. In the photo if you look at the space between the necks it resembles a love-heart. ahh.
The pair will remain together throughout the year, building a floating nest attached to surrounding reeds. They share incubating duties and caring for the young.
You might see the chicks hitching a ride on the back of one of the parents while the other dives to bring them food, insects, tadpoles or weeds. Every so often the parent will eject its load, the chicks tumble into the water swim to the other parent who puts out a foot so they can climb up onto its back.
The Great Crested Grebe relies on freshwater wetlands for its breeding habitat so here at the Big Swamp we are providing an ideal environment for these very elegant birds.