Sunday, 28 November 2010

The Little Grebe.

Little Grebe. Phillip Tomkinson

On Friday 6 November I found 12 Little Grebes (LG) on Conder Pool, their numbers had been increasing on here since the end of the breeding season, this year I found 16 birds on Conder Pool on Monday 18 October - a little later than in 2009 - with the same build up in numbers after the breeding season as last year. This is an interesting observation, in the first place you have to ask, 1) where do all these LG come from, 2) do you suppose off the canal, 3) why do they choose Conder Pool to assemble in such relatively high numbers, 4) where else would you find 16 LG in one place. Last winter they disappeared from Conder Pool associated with the onset of the 'big freeze', this year no big freeze but again they have disappeared though one or two can still be seen in the Conder channel....intriguing stuff! 

As far as I'm aware the LG hasn't bred a Leighton Moss since 1988, but Oakes reported them as nesting regular here in the early 1950's. In the last 30 years there appears to have been a slight increase in the breeding range of LG in Lancashire. The National situation appears to be a not very clear one, but some consider there to have been little change in the population of breeding LG over a period of 55 years. Once again global warming comes into the reckoning with some suggestions being that over the coming years there could be an increase in breeding LG's if the 'warming' continues, but human disturbance with the use of water for recreational purposes could play significant part in halting this advance with other factors to be taken into account.

I've seen comments made about species like the Pied-billed Grebe - recently on Hollingworth Reservoir in Greater Manchester - amazingly having the ability to cross the Atlantic Ocean, two ringing recoveries of LG also show the ability for long distance movements with one bird ringed in Essex in 1956 was found dead in Liverpool two year later in 1958 with a movement of 315km, but there's an even more amazing record of a bird ringed in Latvia in 1983 which was also found dead, this one at Pilling almost two years later in 1985 having made a movement of something like 1,650km, whenever I've seen LG's in flight they always give the impression they couldn't achieve much more than a few metres....I've obviously always been wrong on that one!

Many thanks to Phillip for the use of his image of the Little Grebe which is much appreciated.



Warren Baker said...

The LG is a very rare visitor to my patch Pete. It comes as a relief to me somewhat, to hear they are great travellers, so I might get one on this years list :-)

Pete Woodruff said...

Didn't know the Little Grebe was a rare bird in your patch....I learn something every day Warren.

Pete Marsh said...

Middleton NR & the Sunderland borrow pits (Bowie's/Baxters) breeding population could theoretically account for the Lune Estuary Little Grebes.........but as none have been ringed there, cannot be sure!

Pete Woodruff said...

Thanks for this Pete.

The theory is interesting, as is the fact they've built up over a few weeks on Conder Pool for the past two years, then on reaching a peak number have more or less deserted the place in both years, and in the case of this year as opposed to last, before the freeze....I'm intrigued.