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Searching for the Greeblies

March 29, 2017

A neighbour of mine has a farm dam. It has no fringing vegetation and therefore there is no place to hide for the hunted…and for that matter the hunter. Every year a pair of Australasian Grebes (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) build a floating nest in the middle of the dam and successfully rear chicks. This year was no different.Australasian Grebe 1-DSCN3673

Recently the call came through that the eggs had hatched. The approach to the dam is tricky if you don’t want to alert the subject. One has to walk up the dam wall and peer over the top. On doing so I saw two incredibly small chicks splashing around on the dam. All it took was one squawk from the parent and the chicks disappeared. It took a while to find them but both chicks had hidden under the wings of the floating adult bird (see photos).Australasian Grebe 1-DSCN3675

Australasian Grebes are widespread throughout Australia. Still, shallow fresh water provides the ideal habitat. The scientific name Tachybaptus is derived from two Greek words tachys meaning fast and bapto meaning to dip in water i.e. fast-dipper. This perfectly describes the bird’s response when startled of diving under the water rather than flying away. If the young are under the wing when this happens they go for the dive as well.

I am not sure that Greeblies is the official name for young Grebes but it seems to fit.

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