On Sunday afternoon, 4th March 2018, I decided to pay my patch a visit, as I had not been for a few days and wasn’t able to get Sunday morning. I parked my car in the dam car park and began to scan the water. At first glance, noticing only the usual suspects – Cormorant, Coot, Great Crested Grebe, Mallard and Tufted Duck. Keep scanning I said to myself, something will surely turn up. It did, I picked up on a small wader that flew into my field of view. Tracking it across the water, I noticed it was a Dunlin. A good bird for Staunton Harold Reservoir and the first since 2012.
I decide to scope the dam wall to see if I could re-locate it and as I scanned the dam edge and through the large flock of Great Crested Grebes, much to my delight, I discovered a smaller greyish grebe that was asleep. I immediately knew it was either a Black-necked or a Slavonian Grebe, both of which are rare birds for Derbyshire, let alone Staunton Harold. Eventually it woke up and sure enough it was a Black-necked Grebe in winter plumage. A “Red Letter” afternoon. Two good birds within 20 minutes.
I wasn’t able to get back to the reservoir until Wednesday morning 7th March and decided to call in on my way to work. After checking the dam wall area I started scanning the far side of the reservoir and picked up 2 small grebes that were diving. As they were distant I needed my scope and quickly got on them to find they were both Black-necked Grebes. The first record of this species at Staunton Harold since 2002.
The birds were still present on Friday 9th March and I was able to get a selection of photographs. With careful approach and sitting down quietly by the waters edge, the birds began to display right in front of me – quiet a fantastic few minutes.
Black-necked Grebe – Staunton Harold Reservoir, Derbyshire – March 9th 2018 – Tony Davison©