Little Grebe – 2003-07 breeding

Tachybaptus ruficollis – GWYACH FACH – Breeding resident and winter visitor

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed631
Breeding probable39
Breeding possible511
No of tetrads occupied14 (of 478)51 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads2.9%10.4%

The little grebe inhabits still fresh waters in the breeding season so is absent from the county’s fast flowing streams and rivers. It is secretive and inconspicuous around the breeding area and can easily be overlooked, however its distinctive far–carrying, whinnying call often betrays its presence. The nest is a floating platform of vegetation which is anchored to reeds and overhanging branches.

Comparison of the results of the two surveys indicates an almost four-fold increase in the number of occupied tetrads during the elapsed period. Most pairs were recorded on well-vegetated farm ponds used for irrigation, where there is an abundance of food in the form of small fish and invertebrates. Many of the ponds used in 2003-07 had only recently been constructed in the 1980’s but have subsequently matured, becoming vegetated and therefore suitable for Little Grebes.

Although most small waters are used by just one breeding pair, some tetrads encompass more than one such body of water and at Marloes Mere for instance, there have been four breeding pairs. Allowing for these variables, the county total was estimated to be about 70 pairs by 2007, compared to 12 pairs in 1988.

Graham Rees (County bird recorder 1981 to 2007)

Rees, et al. 2008, Atlas of Breeding Birds in Pembrokeshire 2003-07. Pembrokeshire Bird Group.

More about the Little Grebe in Pembrokeshire