Belongs to: grebes and divers

Little grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis

Also known as: dabchick

Best time to see: all year

Key facts

Smallest British grebe of lakes and reservoirs

Breeds on well vegetated lakes, rivers and ponds; occurs during winter in coastal areas

Widespread and common resident; some continental birds visit in winter


In summer has rust-red cheeks, neck and throat with yellow spot at base of bill; in winter paler, buffy colour; 23–25 cm

Swims and dives for small fish, insects, crustaceans and molluscs; only flies occasionally

Pattering take-off leads to weak flight, with neck stretched out low and legs trailing behind


In courtship, pairs sing a trilling song to one another on the water, and also scuffle and chase

Nest is a floating mound of vegetation in water; two broods April – July; 4-6 white eggs

Dives to catch fish; also eats snails, molluscs and small insects

© Alan Williams

© Alan Williams