The Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) was first recorded in 1992 at a pond in Punggol. By 1994 a few were noticed feeding and breeding across the Serangoon River. By 1996 the number increased to 27 birds, helped by colonisation from nearby Malaysia. Unfortunately habitat destruction caused the number to once again decline but by 2005 a pair was found breeding in Serangoon.
The current documentation of breeding was made in November 2005 by Dr Eric Tan at Serangoon. Two chicks were seen with the adults (above).
The nest is a simple floating platform of water weeds attached to submerged vegetation. There were a number of nest building activities observed in the past but either the birds did not proceed with the laying of eggs or the nesting failed for one reason or another.
A full clutch of eggs is four but egg number has never been accurately ascertained as this would have caused too much disturbance. The adults are extremely shy, diving into the water as soon as any intrusion is detected, either from humans or animals. If there are eggs, they would be immediately covered with water weeds before the adults dive into the water, even when leaving to forage.
At least one adult is usually with the chicks in the nest. The chicks swim alone with the adult keeping watch in the nest or the adults join in. Sometimes the chicks take a ride on the back of the adult (above). The image below shows an adult with a juvenile was taken in April 2006.
All images by Dr Eric Tan.
This post is a cooperative effort between www.naturepixels.org and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.