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Slavonian Grebe

A winter visitor seen just offshore floating on sheltered waters 

Photograph by: 
Internet Open Source

Whilst the Slavonian grebe (Podiceps auritus) is a very scarce breeding species in Britain, the RSPB says the total number of pairs is probably about forty, every winter a small number turn up off the Dorset coast. This species also breeds in Iceland, Scandinavia, Siberia and northern America and it probable that the ones we see here in Dorset are from further afield than Scotland. The numbers visiting Britain overall in winter are quite low, estimates say less than a thousand, so most of the British visitors will be from Iceland and Scandinavia it seems. Of the Dorset wintering grebes it is far less common than the great-crested grebe and the black-necked grebe but probably more common than the red-necked grebe but telling the black-necked, red-necked and Slavonian appart is far from easy, especially if they are some distance off-shore so possibly the Slavonian is under recorded.

As winter visitors to the Dorset coast twitter reports in the Nature of Dorset database would indicate that the Slavonian grebe start to arrive here from around week 44 or the beginning of November. They are then resident here until week 13 at the end of March although there have been a small number of reports in April. Once they arrive they seem to stay as reporting numbers are relatively stable throughout the winter.

There are reports from eight locations off of the Dorset coast which seem to divide into two clusters. Some are seen inside Poole Harbour and out in Studland Bay; the other cluster is around Portland Harbour, along the Fleet and out in Weymouth Bay. Christchurch Harbour seems less favourable with few reports from there.

Given the identification difficulties I would suggest a trip on one of the Birds of Poole Harbour winter bird boats is likely to be the best way to get Slavonian grebe on your Dorset list; that way the experts can find and identify them for you (and you will see a lot of other birds as well!). 



Common Name Slavonian Grebe
Scientific Name Podiceps auritus
Species Group Birds Grebes and divers
Status Scarce
Interest Level
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
Look for

A small black and white grebe offshore in winter

Identification Notes
  • Similar to the black-necked grebe in appearance with detailed plumage variations
  • Less numerous in Dorset than the black-necked gerebe
  • Found mainly in sheltered saline waters rather than on the open sea
Primary Habitat
Preferred Environment
Look for
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Birds Grebes and divers