Great Crested Grebe
The Great Crested Grebe is the largest Australian grebe (48 to 61 centimetres long, females slightly smaller). This is a specialised aquatic species which rarely emerges onto land; the large-lobed feet set well back on the body provide optimum water propulsion but permit only a slow shuffling walk on land or at the nest. It is an excellent swimmer on the surface and underwater. When threatened it submerges with very little trace left on the water and swims away submerged to surface in the distance or behind screening vegetation. Rarely seen flying and then only in short, low flights across water with rapid, shallow beating wings. But long flights are made between lakes as they dry up in drought and form again after rain; it is believed these long flights between lakes are made at night. The Great Crested Grebe dives for its food, sometimes staying under water for nearly a minute but usually for about 30 seconds. Moves both feet when swimming underwater. Diet includes fish, insects, larvae, crustaceans, snails, tadpoles and plant material; fish are a major item caught by pursuit and usually eaten underwater. Adults have distinctive breeding plumage characterised by pointed black crests ("ear tufts") extending as a black patch to the bill. Eye red. Cheeks and throat white, dark line between eye and base of bill. The bill is large, long and straight, brown above and reddish below. The neck is encircled with a prominent rufous and black-tipped ruff. The long neck is mainly white merging into black at the back. Back is dark (mainly brown), flanks are buff and underside white gleaming in sunlight. The nest is a mat of floating water plants in various sites; reed-beds in metre deep water near the shoreline (fresh, brackish or sea water) to islands of weed floating in deep water. (Source: Bush Heritage, 2019), (Image: Steve Waterhouse).