One morning, a fast-moving ripple on the dam attracted my attention. Getting out the binoculars, I could see a small water bird madly swimming back and forth, as though its life depended on racing from one spot to another. Every now and again it would dive beneath the surface, then swim madly off in another direction.
It took a few days to identify this bird, or now, pair of birds (for they seem to have taken up residence here) as Australasian Grebes. Both shy and small, the grebes are extremely hard to photograph. At the slightest hint of movement, they head for the patch of reeds, and hide. When I have managed to capture the grebes in a photograph, the image shows a pair of quickly retreating white bottoms.
Apparently the Australasian Grebe is quite common, and is found all over Australia and also in neighbouring countries such as Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and some of the Pacific Islands. However, I must admit that I’d never heard of this species before we had one turn up here. According to our field guides, the Australasian Grebe likes to inhabit still, inland waters, where it can nest in among the reeds and other thick vegetation growing in the water. They nest from August to December. The male bird is brown with a black neck and head. When breeding, he also sports a chestnut coloured stripe running from the base of the head and upper part of the neck. Females are brown with a white neck and black stripe running up the back of the neck and over the top of her head. Both male and female seem to have white undersides.
You may need to play ‘spot the grebe’ when looking at these photos, but so far, they are the best ones I have taken of these birds. Stay tuned for better photographs – I’m determined not to let them beat me.