Saturday, 31 October 2009

Dabchicks at Cromford

The Dabchick or Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficolis) is not a common bird in the County of Derbyshire, but at Cromford there has been a colony on the canal for as long as I can remember. In the Spring and Summer it is a colourful small water bird with a black and brick red head and a grey body, having a distinct white spot below their beak.
In the Autumn and Winter, these birds become quite drab and uninteresting in their colour. They become a dull and brownish grey colour, losing some of the splendour of the breeding plumage. However they are still amazing little characters, darting about under water and emerging to chirrup at each other in a very distinctive call. They make a lot of noise at times for such a small water bird.
The grebes feed on water invertebrates and small fish, remaining in the water most of the time. Their legs are very far back, making them excellent underwater swimmers, but their ability to walk on land is very poor. They will fly rather than walk, nesting at the waters edge in vegetation.

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