The Secret Life of a Little Aussie Grebe

I suppose that many of us have at one time or another tried to photograph a diving water bird.  If for no other reason than the challenge.  The problem is they don’t wave flags, or seem to indicate that they are about to dive.  Like Pooh bear, they just do.

I was sitting watch a pair at the Werribee Mansion Ornamental Lake the other evening and again the need to try to catch one on plunge overwhelmed me and I started out trying to get that moment.  30 frames later, it was obvious, well at least to me, that said Grebe was pretty slick at getting underwater.

But, the more I watched, the more interesting it all became.


I realised that just milliseconds before diving, the little Aussie Battler, expands, then contracts its body feathers, thus trapping air, then it. Dives.


So now I’m peering through the viewfinder, and sure enough, fluff, compress dive.  Again we are not talking actions of a Tai Chi long movement. More the instantaneous reeling of silk of Chen Style. Done. Oh, you missed it!  I’ll do it again.  There is that better!!!

Now, this is not an exact science.  And as I watched there seemed to be times when the fluff, compress was followed by a small delay before diving.  I might be on to something.

Can’t say I’ve solved the problem completely but at least I had half a chance of getting some of the action.



Feathers all fluffed, ready to go.

A different attempt, and just going down. You can see the back feathers all tightening up.



Dive, Dive, Dive

Just about to disappear

A sneaky slip into the water without the jump

Bottoms up as they say

Right on the moment of disappearing.

The little paddles kick up the last of the diving action.

Off to find a new fishing spot.


11 thoughts on “The Secret Life of a Little Aussie Grebe

  1. Tried a similar thing with a quail trumpeting, that little neck outstretched high and shrill the make. Little quail next door (I’ve called Murphy after the law) because he has the skill and constant movement..I’m either not in focus or he has positioned and obstacle between himself and the lens. the moment I give up or relax or look for a better position he squawks,, the little blighter will end up as mini roast.


    1. Funny that. It is the one image I really really like. I couldn’t use it on Flickr, but it seemed to me to show both the bird’s behaviour and the subtle things we miss.
      Glad you enjoyed


    1. Hi Eleanor, thanks for dropping by and commenting. The little paddles splashing really amused, me and it must have been a one off as I watched quite a number of others and didn’t see it happen again.


    1. HI AB, yep, these little birds seem to have a well developed sense of anti photographer and will paddle rapidly away most times. I’d been sitting in the one spot of quite a long time an hour or so, and I think they were comfortable with me being back from the water’s edge.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by KW and commenting, glad to hear that you enjoy the more intimate moments with the birds too. Seems to me I learn something new just about everytime I have such a close encounter. Keep up the good work.


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