The Courtship Dance of the Great Crested Grebe (14th April 2014)

Hooray! At last I have managed to see, photograph and film the courtship dance of the great crested grebe for the very first time.

I set off to Carsington Water in Derbyshire early Monday morning. Carsington Water is a large reservoir surrounded by hedgerows, woodlands and ponds. The reservoir has three bird hides.

It was reaching 4.00pm and although I had seen a pair of grebes, I had not seen them doing the courtship dance. I reached the last bird hide, the Paul Stanley Hide. From there I was able to see at least four pairs of grebes on the lake. They were quite a distance away. I crossed my fingers. And then it happened. I couldn’t get my camera in focus quick enough and I had to hold my breath to keep my camera steady. I was so excited! It was a truly amazing wildlife spectacle.

There were at least four pairs of grebes on the lake.
There were at least four pairs of grebes on the lake.
The courtship dance begins...
The courtship dance begins…

grebe 2  g8

g7 grebe 6

grebe 5

The Great Crested Grebes can start this courtship dance as early as February at any time of the day when pairs meet each other on the water. They usually begin by mimicking each others’ movements and end with a frantic head shaking display. Sometimes grebes will perform the ‘weed dance.’  Both birds dive down and grab a beakful of weed. They then confront each other shaking their heads from side to side. This is a very rare spectacle and unfortunately I didn’t see this part of the dance today.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jackie Cheadle says:

    Wish I could have been there to see this, brilliant mating ritual, bet they need paracetamol after all that head nodding though. 🙂

  2. zoeanne83 says:

    Ha ha I bet they do! Well you know me, always happy to see something more than once if you fancy going.

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