Great Crested Grebes

Fortune passes everywhere, in the natural world as in human affairs. Walking past the big mere at Tatton Park, I noticed a nest containing a sitting Great Crested Grebe which was only two or three yards from the edge. Out in the middle was the male, diving for fish. I have always been fascinated by these elegant birds, and took the opportunity of photographing them.

I went back several times, usually photographing the birds from the Landrover in order to minimize disturbance, although it hardly seemed to matter in view of the number of people who passed by. Then, after a week of rain, disaster struck. When I got to the mere, the wind was blowing a gale, straight across the mere towards the grebe's nest. The grebes were trying in vain to save their water-logged nest, doomed by the rise in water level and the waves battering it. The extra vegetation which they kept adding did not help the eggs which were level with the water surface.

A few days later, I returned. There were a few sad remains of the nest floating in the reeds, and the pair of grebes were fishing out on the water. I continued around the mere's edge, and came across another pair who had obviously sited their nest in a safer spot - they were swimming around with four chicks, distinctive in their black and white striped livery.

How like our human situation - life involves tragedies for some, whether by chance or poor decisions, and joyful success for others. Poor decisions we can do something about - later in the summer, the original pair built another nest in a better situation and successfully hatched out a clutch of three chicks.

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All text and graphics © Pat Bennett 1996-2002