Thursday, January 11, 2007

Hoary-headed Grebe

 A review of the species list recently, showed that I have never 'blogged' images of the Hoary-headed Grebe, so I'll remedy that. The photo shown here, was taken at the Risdon Brook Park, this individual allowing me to almost get near enough to take a decent shot.
Hoary heads are by far the commonest of the grebes seen in Tasmania, often being seen in small 'rafts', fishing together. They're commonly seen on farm dams, lakes and estuaries around the state. Relatively small numbers of pairs seem to breed here. Some appear to be nomadic, with numbers at any one spot fluctuating considerably. I've only occasionally seen them flying in flocks, so perhaps they mostly move at night. Immature birds lack the hoary headed look, as do the adults in Winter.
The similar sized Australasian, or Little, Grebe, is relatively uncommon, mostly seen in pairs or small groups, on small bodies of fresh water, such as farm dams. It does seem to be increasing in numbers and regularly breeds around SE Tasmania. These two small grebes are occasionally seen together.
The Great-crested Grebe is arguably the rarest of the 3 grebes. When Lake Dulverton, at Oatlands, held a consistent amount of water, breeding regularly occured. In one year, in the 70's, as many as 8 pairs nested there. I'm unaware of any breeding records of late. In recent years they have been seen at Orielton Lagoon, Blackman Bay, the River Derwent around Bridgewater, and on the River Tamar in the North of the state.


Snail said...

Great shot!

I'm glad it's not just me who has trouble taking photos of grebes. The Australasian grebe is very common around here (Melbourne) but they're camera-shy little devils. I have lots of photos of rippled water where a bird had been milliseconds before.

As for hoary-headed grebes ... Mostly I spot their fluffy rear ends disappearing across the river out of camera range.

BirdingTas said...

Hi Snail,
Common as Hoary heads are here, I agree they're pretty elusive when it comes to photographing them. Australasian Grebes are fairly common around the SE of Tas., but will probably require stealth and patience to get usable shots. Digital imaging will no doubt come to the rescue! It's taken me a year to get the H/h, so it might be a while before I manage the 'Australasian'! Thanks for the comment.

John Wilkins said...

We live on the water's edge in Cygnet, in southern Tasmania. The Hoary Grebes arrive like clockwork in the second week of May each year. They fly in at night: we hear their calls as they fly past our home to touch down in the Cygnet Wildlife Sanctuary. Several hundred birds then spend the winter here, floating around in large rafts. They leave together in early Summer. This year 2011, for the first time I know of, in 30 years we have been here, it is late May and the Grebes haven't arrived. Why? Where do they come from anyway.

Steve from Lune River said...

at Hastings Bay upsteam of Southport, last week (24 Oct) there were 160 HHG adults rafting nearshore in a very small area about 30m across. still some about. then on the weekend I saw 45 much smaller fluffy birds (I am guessing young and not just adults seen from a distance?) manouvering through 70 swans into a night roost position out in the middle in front of Lune River. no adults in sight with them. Maybe all these are some of the ones John is missing from Cynet