Monday, 5 March 2012

More Grebes

This winter proved to be really good for Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) in Beppu. These photos were taken on February 11 at Harukigawa river mouth. I took a long afternoon walk along the shore of Beppu Bay from my place to Harukigawa. I could see many Great Crested Grebes along the way. At the Harukigawa river mouth, there was a small flock of 5 birds staying together closely. They seemed to favour feeding at the river mouth catching a specific kind of fish, which was the Striped Eel Catfish (Plotosus lineatus).

Great Crested Grebe with a Striped Eel Catfish

Not quite an easy meal to swallow

Finally finished the meal with bloodstain on its bill

I observed them constantly successfully caught this kind of catfish at the river mouth. They seemed to be abundant in that area. Of all the 5 birds, there was one individual that has already partly moulted into breeding plumage showing beautiful black and orange feathers on the cheek. I believe it would've fully transformed into breeding plumage by now. Need to go back and check it out soon.

This individual has moulted into breeding plumage.

These grebes were quite obliging once accustomed to my presence.

Taking a rest after a big meal

This individual was especially territorial.

One of the birds was especially aggressive. It would chase away other individuals that came close to its territory. It was interesting to watch the grebes fight. They didn't only chase after each on the surface of the water, but also dived into the water and attacked the other from underneath! That's a pretty scary and serious fight, I think.

This individual also had some breeding feathers on the cheeks.

More photos of the bird with advanced moult.

I almost didn't have to crop these images.

Showing their oversized feet


  1. Fantastic osbervation and really really nice pictures Ayuwat! I kind of envy you to get that close to them ;-)

  2. Wonderful photographs and story telling. I tried to photograph one yesterday but only got a miserable snapshot. Super work.

  3. Usually it is not possible to get close to water birds without them scooting off . You were lucky to have met this group of confiding Grebes. Great observation Ayuwat

  4. Thank you all! Normally they are not approachable like this though. This winter is a bit weird, if you ask me. These grebes seem to become much nicer to human.