Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis


A small, dumpy grebe, which often appears to have a 'fluffy' rear end. It readily dives when disturbed, surfacing unseen some distance away. In summer it has a bright chestnut throat and cheeks and a pale gape patch at the base of the bill. It can be noisy, with a distinctive whinnying trill. In winter it is dull brown but with a pale and fluffy rear.

Identification difficulty

It is found across the UK although is largely absent from upland areas. Look for it wherever there are suitable lakes, gravel pits, canals and slow rivers with plenty of vegetation. In winter it can be found on more exposed lakes, as well as sheltered coasts and estuaries. Winter concentrations can be found in places like Rutland Water and Eyebrook Reservoir.

When to see it

All year round

Life History

Nests amongst emerging vegetation or uses overhanging branches to anchor a mound of waterweed. Lays 4 to 6 dull whitish eggs, which it covers when it leaves the nest.

UK Status

Widespread throughout Britain

VC55 Status

Fairly common resident breeder, uncommon winter visitor in Leicestershire and Rutland

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map