Dabchick or Little Grebe

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The Dabchick is the smallest and most common European species of  the Grebe (Podicipedidae) family, which has also a wide range in the Old World.  It is the also known as the Little Grebe and Dobchick, and is the Tachybaptus ruficollis of modern scientific taxonomy.

In most parts of the UK the Dabchick resorts in Spring to lakes or even small ponds, building there a nest of aquatic plants, collected in the pool it frequents, and either piled up from the bottom near the margin or resting on the growing water-weeds themselves, while use is occasionally made of any branch of a tree that may have fallen into the water. In all cases, the mass of materials brought together is large compared with the size of the bird, and is always in a moist condition, even to the upper part, which is slightly hollowed out in the form of a cup to receive the seven or eight eggs that are laid therein.


The eggs, as is generally the case with those of other members of the Family, are symmetrical in form, there being little or no difference between the two ends.  They have a chalky shell, which from being at first of a pure white are soon stained by the damp weeds forming the nest, some of which are carefully drawn over it by the parent whenever it is left, and even if the mother Dabchick is too suddenly disturbed to make this possible, she will stealthily return at the first opportunity and cover them.

Few birds have a greater faculty of escaping observation than the Dabchick, and it often happens that a pair will frequent a small weedy pond, close to a human habitation, and rear their young there, without their existence being detected, though they stay for the whole of the summer. In winter the greater part emigrate, and those that remain move themselves to rivers, brooks, and ditches near the sea, which except in very hard frost are free from ice - using, as a last resort, the tidal waters.

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