Little Grebe: Going out with a fight

on 27th March 2006

“On December 12th, 2005, as I was leading my American clients on a birding tour at Serangoon (Sewage Works), we stopped to observe an adult Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis). Suddenly, another adult swam into view with two juveniles in tow, much to my excitement. There has been only three adult grebes left here and so it was quite unexpected to find that they had bred.

“The Little Grebe first arrived in 1992, at a little pond adjacent to the old Ponggol pig farms. By 1994, there were a few feeding and breeding across the Serangoon River, at a large pond, at the Serangoon Sewage Works. Colonisation from nearby Malaysia was a success and the grebe population continued to grow with a high count of 27 birds in 1996.

“Soon after, the large pond was filled in and although a shallow pool emerged from the original site, the only good pond that remained was the smaller pond. This pond continues to exist and holds the last remnants of the Little Grebe population. This had dwindled to just three birds in the last two years.

“The grebe makes a floating nest of water plants in the middle of the pond and it has bred a few times before, especially when the larger pond was around. The small remaining population still built nests but in many cases, these were not utilised. That is until this year. A nest was built in the middle of the pond and an adult sat on it. Even this behaviour did not mean nesting.

“The only record of a Little Grebe away from the Serangoon/Ponggol area was of one bird at the Tuas grassland. Why is the species not found at Sungei Buloh and other wetlands areas? One likely reason is the presence of the large predatory Common Snakehead or Aruan.

“So, is the Little Grebe to have a very short stint as a Permanent Resident?

Regards, R. Subaraj.”

Contributed by our bird specialist R. Subaraj. Image of nesting Little Grebes taken with permission from Ong Kiem Sian’s video Precious Moments of Nesting Birds I.

PS 1: On 27th March 2006 Ong Kiem Sian wrote in: “I saw once a family of grebes with 2 chicks at Tampines pond. I have not been there for many years. Maybe the pond does not exist anymore.”

PS 2: Alvin Wong from Beijing wrote on 11th April 2006: “Howdy folks, I’m currently in Beijing, China (where blogspot is blocked and I cannot post my comment on besgroup). I used to observe Little Grebes swimming in the water-logged empty land across my block in Punggol. now it’s a cluster of HDB flats under construction. Bird-watching from my living room…”

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

3 Responses

  1. Interesting idea on snakeheads affecting the distribution of suitable breeding sites, although I wonder if other predators of chicks like monitor lizards, macaques and even other birds also has an influence.

    Speaking of which, any studies on fish predation on aquatic bird hatchlings? I do wonder how those Lesser Whistling Ducks manage to survive.

  2. I wonder where the juveniles move to once they are ready to leave the nest?

    As for these two chicks, the first hatched on 11Nov05 and the second on 12Nov05.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Overall visits (since 2005)

Live visitors
Visitors Today

Clustrmaps (since 2016)