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Black-necked Grebe

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Small numbers overwinter off the Dorset coast and in the main harbours



Photograph by: 
Mike Morse

Black-necked Grebe in Dorset: what your tweets tell us

Post date: Wednesday, 6 February, 2019 - 19:00

Whilst the black-necked grebe is primarily a northern European breeding species from Denmark eastwards it does breed in Britain, mainly in Scotland and in northern areas of England. Being from the northern regions it is another bird species forced south by the severe winter weather and the southern coast of England suits some of them and they can be seen in suitably sheltered locations around Dorset.

The first arrivals seem to come in around week 40 in late September and reports then increase over time with peak numbers being reported in December and January. Numbers seem to start to decline during February and by week 15 in mid-April they are all gone for another winter. It could be that numbers vary from year to year depending on weather conditions and bad weather in February might also drive some of our winter population further south in to France and Spain.

They like open but sheltered sea water locations and so the records mainly come from Poole Harbour, Studland Bay and Portland Harbour with occasional reports from Weymouth Bay and from along the Fleet. Some off shore movement is sometimes seen from Portland Bill, along Chesil Beach and also from Mudeford.

The black-necked grebe is, to my mind, a species that is likely to be overlooked unless you are specifically seeking it out. Any of the sites mentioned above will be good places to look for them in mid-winter but you need to brush up the differences between this species and great-crested grebe and also between this and the very similar but less frequent Slavonian grebe.


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

Sites List Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
Common Name Black-necked Grebe
Scientific Name Podiceps nigricollis
Status Local
Interest Level
Species Family Grebes
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Preferred Environment
  • Open sea
  • Harbours, estuaries and lagoons
Look for Diving birds off shore with shorter necks than the more common Gt Crested Grebe
Additional Identification Notes
  • Winter visitors only, they do not breed this far south
  • Seen off shore in open but sheltered waters in bays and harbours
  • Shorter necks than the great crested grebe but difficult to tell apart from the less common Slavonian grebe
Similar Species