Original Painting Medium: Gouache
Scientific Name: Podiceps auritus
Region: U.K Scandinavia
The Slavonian Grebe is a very attractive bird. In winter, the adults cheeks are white but in breeding plumage they have glorious golden head-tufts with chestnut red neck and flanks. The beautiful plumage of the Grebe was both a challenge and a pleasure to portray. My gouache portrait is of a Grebe in summer plumage, sitting on its nest.
The first breeding pair of Slavonian Grebes in the U.K were first seen in Scotland in 1908 and it is presumed that they came from the nearest foreign breeding grounds, Iceland or Scandinavia. Today there are fewer than 60 pairs, concentrated on shallow freshwater lochs in the remoter parts of Scotland.
After wintering on coastal waters, paired birds return to their breeding grounds. Before mating, they take part in an elaborate ritual of display ceremonies. Noted for their spectacular courtship displays, both sexes are involved in a variety of highly ritualised movements. They will face each other for long bouts of mutual head-shaking and also rush along side by side holding their bodies vertically almost out of the water.
The major threat to the survival of Grebes is the destruction of their freshwater habitat. Human activities have a detrimental effect on the breeding success of many species, who will readily surrender their nest if disturbed. Two species of Grebe may already be extinct and three are classed as endangered.