Great crested grebes are featuring here twice in one week but I can never resist a good story. When I arrived at Cardiff Bay wetlands yesterday, a pair was in the reeds near the boardwalk.
The female was lying flat across the beginnings of a nest platform, making odd groaning noises. Having seen this before, I knew what was going to happen next …
And it did. After a few minutes, the male jumped up on top of her and they proceeded to mate.
The dismount with grebes would never score well in a gymnastics competition – the male sort of slides off, pushing the female’s head under the water.
You could almost hear their after-thoughts: ‘Better get on with the nest building’, and both birds began gathering twigs to place on the nest.
But a nearby Coot was having none of it. He didn’t want these noisy characters for neighbours and, faster than the grebes could place twigs on the platform, he was pulling them off again.
There was a stand-off, much posturing and squawking, and eventually the male grebe charged the Coot. The grebe thought it had won but the Coot didn’t retreat far. The grebes might keep trying but my money’s on the Coot to win this territorial battle.