This video, taken by SPNL team member Maher Osta, is the first evidence for A Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps Cristatus) feeding a chick after breeding in Lebanon. The event was confirmed, documented, and scientifically published by leading ornithologist Dr. Ghassan Jaradi. All followers of the hunting situation in Lebanon agree that such an event was made possible by the extreme protection provided by the personnel involved in implementing the law, under strict orders from president General Michel Aoun and Ministers Mr. Fady Jraysaty, Mrs.Raya Haffar El Hassan, and the President of NCLW Mrs. Claudine Aoun Roukoz, who gave extreme priority to stop springtime shooting and raise awareness, which gave a chance for such birds to successfully breed in Lebanon for the first time. Hoping for more implications of the hunting law on all territories.
The species is found across most of Europe and central Asia, though it also winters in parts of southern Asia (e.g. northern India). Colonies can also be found scattered throughout Africa, from Tunisia and Egypt in the north and a few colonies in central Africa down to South Africa. Nesting colonies are also found in southern Australia and New Zealand, with individuals wintering in eastern and northern Australia (del Hoyo et al. 1992).
Behaviour The majority of this species is fully migratory although some populations may only undergo local dispersive movements (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It breeds between April and September in Europe, in all months of the year in Africa (peaking during long rainy season) and from November to March in Australasia, nesting either in solitary, dispersed pairs or in loose colonies (forming only where safe nesting sites are few and feeding areas are extensive) (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Fjeldså 2004). After breeding (from August to October), adults may disperse locally to large lakes and reservoirs to undergo a flightless moulting period, during which gatherings of hundreds of individuals (occasionally even greater than 10,000) may form (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Fjeldså 2004). During the winter the species largely remains solitary, especially when feeding, but temporary congregations of up to 5,000 individuals may form in some areas (Snow and Perrins 1998, Fjeldså 2004).
Habitat Breeding The species breeds on fresh or brackish waters with abundant emergent and submerged vegetation, showing a preference for non-acidic eutrophic waterbodies with flat or sloping banks and muddy or sandy substrates, usually 0.5-5 m deep and with large areas of open water (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Snow and Perrins 1998). Suitable habitats include small pools or lakes, backwaters of slow-flowing rivers and artificial waterbodies (e.g. reservoirs, fish-ponds, gravel pits and ornamental lakes) (del Hoyo et al. 1992). In Australia the species also utilises swamps, reservoirs, lagoons, salt-fields, estuaries and bays, and in tropical Africa and New Zealand it may breed on montane, subalpine and alpine lakes up to 3,000 m (Marchant and Higgins 1990, del Hoyo et al. 1992). Non-breeding The species overwinters on large exposed ice-free lakes and reservoirs, moving to sheltered coastal inshore waters less than 10 m deep such as brackish estuaries, deltas, tidal channels and tidal lagoons during cold spells (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Snow and Perrins 1998, Fjeldså 2004). In addition it frequents large saline lakes in Australia (Marchant and Higgins 1990). Diet Its diet consists predominantly of large fish as well as insects, crustaceans (e.g. crayfish, shrimps) and molluscs, occasionally also adult and larval amphibians (del Hoyo et al. 1992). The species’s invertebrate consumption is highest during the breeding season (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Breeding site The nest is a platform of aquatic plant matter either floating on water and anchored to emergent vegetation or built from the lake bottom in shallow water (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Typical nest sites include reedbeds or flooded thickets as well as more open sites such as floating mats of water-weed or kelp fronds (Fjeldså 2004).
In the past, New Zealand colonies experienced considerable declines with the introduction of exotic fish species, likely due to increased competition for food resources and a subsequent loss of productivity. However, this population now appears to be increasing (Llimona et al. 2018), suggesting this is no longer a significant threat even to this small percentage of the Australasian subspecies. Hunting for food and the plume trade has previously been a significant threat however, it no longer occurs at significant levels.
Conservation Actions Underway
The following information refers to the species’ European range only: The species was included in the Grebes Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan published in 1997 (O’Donnel and Fjeldså 1997).
Conservation Actions Proposed
The following information refers to the species’ European range only: The conservation of this species relies on the protection of lake habitats, limiting water-based recreation at key sites and enhancing nesting habitat in predator-free environments. Key international sites should be identified and protected. Evaluate the potential of the species as a keystone indicator of wetland health (O’Donnel and Fjeldså 1997). Enforce mitigation measures to reduce bycatch. Imlpement strict legislation on the transportation of oil to reduce the risk of future spills.