Jan 12--Hoary-headed Grebe at Elterwater

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Re: Jan 12--Hoary-headed Grebe at Elterwater

Postby Matthias » Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:30 pm


I happened to be at Lake Elterwater again yesterday.

- There are FOUR adult Hoary-headed Grebes in breeding-plumage (Fig. 1, rows 1 and 2).

- One pair has two small juveniles (Fig. 1, bottom row). They are much smaller than the juveniles that I saw three weeks ago and are still being fed by the adults and also sometimes carried on the back (Fig. 2). As far as I know, these juveniles were first seen by Sandra Wallace and Eleanor Gunby who told me that they saw three young juveniles with one adult on February 7th. It seems that Hoary-headed Grebes have already bred twice at Lake Elterwater recently!

- I also saw two birds that seem to be either moulting into or out of breeding plumage (Fig. 1, third row). Maybe these are the older juveniles that I saw three weeks ago or maybe they are different birds.

- There were also TWO New Zealand Dabchicks (Fig. 3). They were foraging in the southern part of the lake.

- At one point there were six Crested Grebes visible at the same time.


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Fig. 1. Hoary-headed Grebes, Lake Elterwater.

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Fig. 2. Juvenile Hoary-headed Grebes, Lake Elterwater.

MDehling_NZDabchick_Elterwater.jpg (159.13 KiB) Viewed 2071 times
Fig. 3. New Zealand Dabchicks, Lake Elterwater.
Last edited by Matthias on Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Jan 12--Hoary-headed Grebe at Elterwater

Postby AlanShaw » Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:56 am

Great work, Matthias! Although I've not seen any reference to it, I reckon the birds with bulging lower mandibles are adult males. Would I be correct in assuming that these close-up shots are taken through your telescope, i.e. digiscoping ?
A short clip of one of the Great Crested Grebes at Lake Elterwater is attached.[youtube]cGVC38iZHmI[/youtube]
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Re: Jan 12--Hoary-headed Grebe at Elterwater

Postby Matthias » Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:33 pm

Thanks, Alan. The difference in the form of the bills is quite remarkable, and I was surprised that neither HANZAB nor any field guide mention it. I took most photos with a normal camera, only the photos of some of the distant birds (e.g. the dabchicks) were shot through the scope.
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Re: Jan 12--Hoary-headed Grebe at Elterwater

Postby Alan Tennyson » Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:09 pm

Saw one adult hoary-head feeding a large downy chick this afternoon plus 2 adult cresteds by the viewing platform
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Re: Jan 12--Hoary-headed Grebe at Elterwater

Postby GKincaid » Sun Mar 04, 2018 2:56 pm

This morning, March 4, the following grebes were seen from the platform at Lake Elterwater: 2 Great Crested, 2 Dabchick (far across the lake), and a total of 6 Hoary-Headed: 2 adult, 2 large chicks, and 2 chicks being carried on the back of an adult.

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Re: Jan 12--Hoary-headed Grebe at Elterwater

Postby Oscar Thomas » Tue May 01, 2018 4:34 pm

Spend nearly two hours from dawn watching the lake yesterday. I saw a total of 6 Crested grebes and one juvenile Hoary-headed/Dabchick. I am assuming Hoary-headed based on the fact there was still chicks seen into March, and there were a lot less dabchick? Can anyone confirm the species from the photo?

Hoary.jpg (1.44 MiB) Viewed 1664 times

Interestingly enough later that day I met a visiting Dutch birder on the Interislander who showed me photos he took of two adult Hoary-headed grebes from a few days before I visited, so they are still around at least.
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Re: Jan 12--Hoary-headed Grebe at Elterwater

Postby Matthias » Mon May 07, 2018 9:28 pm

I visited Lake Elterwater after the Kaikoura pelagic on ANZAC day. I saw three pairs of Crested Grebe (one of them with one juvenile) but no Hoary-headed Grebes. I therefore took the "Global Big Day" last Saturday as an incentive to have another look for the grebes at Lake Elterwater.

In the afternoon, I saw all four adult Hoary-headed Grebes that I had seen in February, plus what I had thought was an immature bird (3rd row left in the post above). The plumage of all these individuals appears to be have changed very little since February/early March.

I also saw two juvenile Hoary-headed Grebes that are changing into the first non-breeding plumage (photo below). Both showed only few remaining traces of the juvenile head pattern so I don't think that either of them is the individual that Oscar photographed last week.

In addition, I saw four Crested Grebes (no sign of the juvenile this time) and one NZ Dabchick (at one point, I even had all three grebes in the same field of view, stitched photo below).


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Hoary-headed Grebe, Lake Elterwater

Grebes_LakeElterwater_20180505.jpg (156.84 KiB) Viewed 1574 times
Crested Grebe, NZ Dabchick, Lake Elterwater

ThreeGrebeSpp_LakeElterwater_20180505.jpg (257.35 KiB) Viewed 1574 times
NZ Dabchick, Crested Grebe, and Hoary-headed Grebe, Lake Elterwater
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Grebes at Elterwater, Marlborough

Postby Jake » Wed Jul 04, 2018 6:49 pm

1 hoary-headed grebe, 4 crested grebes and 3 royal spoonbills seen this afternoon. There was a mystery grebe out there the other day and the more I think about it the more I think it was a NZ dabchick
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Re: Jan 12--Hoary-headed Grebe at Elterwater

Postby Graeme T » Fri Jul 13, 2018 10:43 pm

I was at Lake Elterwater this afternoon. On the first check there were two adult crested grebes out from the platform and one in the distance and no smaller grebes seen. Coming back half an hour later I saw a NZ dabchick near the trees out from the platform. I then stopped up at the north end of the lake and climbed the small hill to get a view. After about 5 minutes I saw an adult hoary-headed grebe feeding some distance away in the bay. Then about 5 minutes later there was at least one and maybe two juveniles seen at the northernmost end of lake. The wind was blowing very strong from the north so made it hard to observe the birds with binoculars. My photos are too poor to upload.
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Re: Jan 12--Hoary-headed Grebe at Elterwater

Postby Alan Tennyson » Mon Jul 23, 2018 10:33 pm

We saw 3 adult hoary-heads and 3 cresteds at Elterwater yesterday, cheers

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