Wānaka Sun       

Grebe diaries 3

Posted at 6:00am Thursday 24 Dec, 2020 | By John Darby

I have always felt that I have had a degree of control of what happens with the grebes in terms of keeping good records, but this year is starting to feel somewhat shambolic. The shambles have arisen through the storms we have had that have mostly been devastating with losses of eggs and nests in double figures.

That rough weather and damage also made it difficult to get out and do as many nest checks as ideal. What is becoming clear, is that not all the eggs were lost on some of the nests, but then again, I am not sure because it's becoming clear that some birds deserted their nests during the storm, perhaps after losing one or more eggs. That provided the opportunity for another pair on the lookout for an empty nest to move in and then add to the contents. It's all very confusing and best to sum up this week by noting that we now have 14 pairs of birds caring for a total of 41 eggs and at least three additional pairs of birds looking for space. And those three pairs are creating havoc and confusion as they hassle nesting birds.

We removed a nest from a tyre that surrounds a pole and encouraged the bird onto a nest we had built that was on a platform loaned to us from Hawea. That's going to be nest 14, but no sooner had we succeeded in this transfer than another pair moved onto the same pole and started to build a nest. And then to add to the confusion, the birds on the pontoon laid another egg, (ref last weeks diary, no sign of a nest this time) and on a hunch, I marked it put it on this new nest. Within hours, the new owner added to it with a second egg, so they are due to hatch 13-15 Jan

Nests  7 and 10 are due to hatch in the last week of December, nests 1,2,3,4,5 and 12 and 13 the first week of January and nest 8 sometime between January 10 and 12.

It would be great if all those estimates turn out to be as accurate as my estimates for the Lake Hawea pair who duly produced their first chick on December 14, followed by a second chick a day or so later. 

Much of the coming months are to be dedicated to reviewing and rethinking nesting platforms. They have done relatively well, some have been in the water for six or more years. However the time spent on repairs and maintenance is huge and we need to look at design alternatives to reduce that effort and that includes looking at options on plastic pallets. Things like shackles and swivels are proving to be expensive bits, but the one that causes most problems and costs  are how we keep these things afloat.

Finally, by way of variety. Do you have a great photo of a grebe/grebes that we could attach to diaries as they come out. Tell us where and when you took the image, copyright remains yours and let us have your name so that we can acknowledge your skills.

Happy Christmas all

John Darby

Read edition 1006 of the Wānaka Sun here.

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