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Grebe Britain – bird numbers recover
THERE was great excitement recently at the Trust’s Rainton Meadows reserve when a trio of black-necked grebes made an appearance.
The black-necked grebe is a rare bird in this part of the world at any time, but what made this particularly special is that two of the three birds appeared to be eyeing up Rainton Meadows as a breeding site.
Across the UK there are estimated to only be about 50 breeding pairs of black-necked grebe, so a nesting pair would be quite an honour for an opencast coal restoration site.
Our courting couple have now moved on, but if you were to stumble across them somewhere they are a bird you would remember thanks to the bright yellow tufts of feathers around the eye. The black neck and face makes the yellow particularly noticeable.
When I was a child black-necked grebes were far too exotic for me to hope to see one, but the equally striking great crested grebe was always one of the birds I wanted to see.
In the 19th century the great crested grebe was almost hunted to extinction in Britain. Fashion victims in the worst possible way, the feathers of the great crested grebe were seen as the perfect addition to a lady’s hat.
Sense prevailed and the fate of these beautiful birds, and others, was one of the issues that kick-started nature conservation in this country. It took many years for great crested grebe numbers to recover, but thankfully they are widespread once more.