Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
Status: Rare winter visitor to coastal areas from October to March. Former breeding species on well-vegetated lakes in western Ireland.
Conservation Concern: The Irish population has been Red-listed due to the major decline in the breeding population. The European population has been evaluated as Secure.
Identification: A small Grebe, similar in size to Slavonian and Little Grebes. Adult summer birds are unistakable when seen well. They have a small yellowish tuft behind the eye, with the body almost completely black - only the undersides being a reddish-brown. Adult winter Black-necked Grebes are very similar to winter Slavonian Grebes and care is needed to separate the two species. Black-necked Grebes tend to have a darker throat and less extensive white face patch. They also have a distinctly peaked crown compared to the more rounded head of Slavonian Grebe. Juvenile birds are similar to adult winter Black-necked Grebe, though can be recognised by some buffy markings on the face and throat.
Similar Species: Other Grebe species.
Call: Silent during winter.
Diet: Mainly smaller fish species and crustaceans.
Breeding: Formerly bred in Ireland on Lough Funshinagh in County Roscommon. There is a small breeding population in Britain (<50 pairs), with the majority of the European population centered on Central and Eastern Europe. Breeds on small well vegetated ponds and lakes.
Wintering: A scarce winter visitor to sheltered bays and estuaries on all Irish coasts. Rarely seen on larger lakes.
Where to See: Dungarvan and Wexford Harbours usually hold one or two wintering Black-necked Grebes.