Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Gathering of the Grebes


Of course we couldn't stop over in Wanaka without paying a visit to our favourite birds' nesting sites on Lake Wanaka's waterfront and what a surprise awaited us.

Not just a handful of Australasian Crested Gebes this time, there were at least 25 grebes nesting, swimming, fishing, guarding, building, fighting, making babies, resting and searching (for a nest site) in the small area between the marina and lake edge.

The artificial nest platforms have multiplied too, obviously to keep up with the population explosion. 

There are at least 15 platforms attached to the marina and floating in the shallows.

And all but one are occupied and closely guarded...

This is the grebe equivalent of the penthouse suite; sheltered from the elements above and behind and complete with a natural greenery screen, providing privacy from the grebes next door.

It might have appeared peaceful after just a quick glance across the water but there were ructions going on all around the marina (this photo is a first- 5 grebes in one shot!)

This pair of grebes were on a mission... secure themselves a nesting site...

They were told in no uncertain terms to back off here but they persisted, trying a different approach...

...from the back.

No luck with that one, they moved onto the next platform and got told off there too...

At a different platform, this grebe just wanted to pass by and under the marina to open water. He tried the 'don't look her in the eye' trick and got past.

The determined couple were now trying it on at floating platform #15, one of the first artificial nest sites and the one that is closest to the shore. It has featured in several of my past blogs, it's also had some modifications with a screen added to break the wind.

If the couple headed to the other end of the marina, they'd find an abandoned nest and a NZ Scaup squatter they'd have no trouble evicting. And, it has greenery too.

Oops...don't look now. I smiled at his dismount; he nose dived over the front, tangling his huge feet in her mane and disappeared into the depths.

It just goes to show that Australasian Crested Grebes thrive with a bit of help. There are going to be a lot of gorgeous little striped babies riding around on their parents backs very soon.

If you'd like to read more, here are some links from previous visits, including chicks riding shotgun and the beautiful courtship display.

But actually, the main reason we stopped at Albert Town Campground was to see if we could spy the NZ Falcon pair that were nesting again in the same place as they did last year; right beside a couple of old logs in the campground. 

Unfortunately, I think it was a bit early and they were still sitting on the eggs out of sight. The area is fenced off so you can't get too close- not that you'd want to, you'd be dive-bombed fairly quickly. We thought we might see an adult flying in or out but saw nothing. In another 6-8 weeks the fledglings will be visible, climbing up on the logs to beg for food.


  1. So pleased to see this grebe post. Last month heard from Wanaka friend that grebes had returned and started nesting. It's so nice to be able to see them in these almost real time photos. Wonder whether the grebes we saw at Glendhu Bay are also nesting here :). I had a hard time looking for the 5th grebe in the '5 grebes in a shot' photo on a smart phone screen, finally found it sitting on the platform LOL...

    1. Hi offstone, I think the Glendhu Bay grebes will be nesting over in Paddock Bay, it would be a bit too far for them to swim to the Wanaka waterfront, which is probably just as well given the goings on there! :) I wondered how long it would take to find the 5th grebe!


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