We continue today with another new species from the wetland reserve of Padul, a key, local marshland habitat that’s providing some fantastic seasonal birdwatching. Smaller than a Moorhen, the Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis had eluded us until our recent visit, and it’s great to have this delightful species on our lists at last…
Small, dark and short-billed, the Little Grebe is usually a secretive species that will often dive suddenly and swim to cover in the margins rather than take to the air. The new hides at the reserve gave us terrific views today however, and the charming individual shown above remained remarkably confiding before finally up-ending with a “plop” and disappearing completely.
They’re in winter plumage now, but still retain some key ID points to look for. The dumpy, round body is brown, and they show a dark crown with paler, buff-brown neck and cheeks. The bill is small and straight, and distinct from the up-turned bill of the Black-necked Grebe, which is far more localized in Spain.
The almost total lack of a tail assists the bird with buoyancy, and note too the characteristic white “powder-puff” on the rear end – just visible in the shot shown above.
They hunt underwater for small fish, molluscs, aquatic insects and their larvae…often diving with a little leap and popping back up like a cork. They have a widespread, year-long distribution over much of Europe, although some eastern birds are migratory and disperse onto larger western European waters in the autumn.
It’s terrific to be writing about new species currently, and we’ve still more to come so please keep reading our blog. Joining us for one of our birding tours couldn’t be easier – even in winter the local birdwatching is as exciting as ever – so simply click on the link and you’ll find all the information you need about our trips and holidays. We run them throughout the year!