Great-crested Grebe nest goes sailing
26th May 2011 (Fig. 1.) (Clarke 2011).
I was down at Kemerton Lake Nature Reserve the other day during a gale when I noticed that a Great-crested Grebe's nest floating across the lake, accompanied by the two adults. The branch supporting the nest (left of nest in picture) had broken free and the whole thing had set off across the lake. It got about two thirds of the way across when the branch caught in some Potamogeton or other floating plant that stopped its progress. The nest was accompanied all the way by both birds - she tried several times to get onto the nest but it was no longer supported by the branch and partially sank so she had to get off. He swam around, sometimes alert, at other times preening or occasionally diving. It was a pathetic sight and I wished that I could have seen the outcome. They had less than 100m. to go to reach the reeds where maybe they could have done some repairs. I guess that the outcome was disastrous but I will try to locate the nest at a later date.
13th June 2011 (Fig. 2.).
Three weeks on and they're still there out in the middle of the lake, completely exposed to predators, of which there are hundreds. It appears to me they have improved and stabilised the nest after it snagged on the water weed. You can see where they have dragged up surrounding plants, some of which are draped over the nest. My guess is that during their 'Kon Tiki' journey across the lake the eggs got soaked and chilled so we wait to see if they hatch. If they do it will be this week.
They successfully hatched two young. I can't believe that with all the gulls around they succeeded out in the middle of the lake! An extraordinary story.
Clarke, J. 2011. Nest sailing. Worcestershire Record 30:30.
Fig. 1. Great-crested grebe nest sailing before the wind May 2011. Mark Gulliford
Fig. 2. Great crested grebe nest 10 June 2011. Alan Marsh