Slavonian Grebes at Clifford Hill Gravel Pits

While undertaking a WeBS count on 26th November, Bob Bullock found two Slavonian Grebes on the main barrage lake a Clifford Hill GP. Remaining faithful to an area in the north-west corner of the lake, they were still present two days later but there have been no reports since 28th. Are they still there?

Adult (left) and first-winter Slavonian Grebes, Clifford Hill GP, 27th November 2016 (Bob Bullock)

November proved to be a good month for this species in the county, with multiple arrivals on 14th including one at Thrapston GP, which remained until at least 19th, and another at Ravensthorpe Res, which was quickly joined by another the same day, both having departed by the following morning.

The two at Clifford Hill GP provided an opportunity for relatively close study and it was immediately evident that the two birds were quite different in plumage.

First-winter Slavonian Grebe, Clifford Hill GP, 27th November 2016 (Alan Coles)

First-winter Slavonian Grebe, Clifford Hill GP, 28th November 2016 (Alan Coles)

One was an obvious textbook grey, black and white, winter-plumaged adult with a sharply demarcated black crown, white cheeks and a clean white foreneck. The other could be aged as a first winter, still retaining some juvenile plumage in the form of diffuse, dusky areas, most obvious on the rear cheeks as well as on the neck sides (which show an noticeable brownish hue), extending across the foreneck, which is also rather dirty-looking compared to that of the adult.