A great crested grebe — now a pair is breeding on the Isle of Wight. Picture: RSPB images.
IT IS the bird that was almost hunted to extinction and was the inspiration for the founding of the RSPB in 1889.
The great crested grebe, which was culled for its feathers to make hats in Victorian times, has started breeding on the Isle of Wight for the first time, according to the RSPB.
It has been a good year so far for new birds breeding on Brading Marshes reserve, with little egrets and marsh harriers also nesting for the first time on the Island.
Brading Marshes site manager Keith Ballard said: "We recorded great crested grebes a few times this winter and a couple of weeks ago I noticed there was a pair of them. They were doing some courtship and displaying.
"The great crested grebe does an amazing courtship display, where they appear to dance on water. It is really spectacular if you can get to see it.
"Last week, one of our volunteers reported the pair were together and had built a nest."
Great crested grebes are frequently seen around The Solent during winter but rarely on the inland waters of the IW and virtually never seen in the vicinity during spring and summer.
"They are attracted to large bodies of inland open water for breeding and this year there is a large enough expanse of water at Brading Marshes for them to make their home and breed," explained Keith.
"It is also about food — there is also enough fish available for the birds to feel secure enough to nest."
Lapwings are also flourishing at Brading this year, with 12 breeding pairs nesting on the marsh.
Lapwings are a red-listed endangered species and the RSPB is encouraging them to breed on its reserves.