Today, one great crested grebe sitting on a nest in a canal not far from home. Another grebe, its partner, swimming close to it.
So, now it looks like this is the grebes‘ nest for this spring. However, I cannot be sure about that yet. Last year, coots nested here. And also this year, I have often seen coots on or near the nest. Coots and great crested grebes are sometimes rivals for nesting spots. Coots often use more nesting material to build a higher nest.
Over a century ago, coots were less common than now in the Netherlands. While great crested grebes were rare, and the few birds which did breed were shy. According to famous Dutch naturalist Jac. P. Thijsse, writing in 1913, this was because grebes were hunted for their fur, used in clothes. Thijsse wrote that, by 1913, the hunting had already somewhat diminished.
Later, hunting great crested grebes became illegal. And today, many great crested grebes nest in the Netherlands, even in the canals of busy cities like Amsterdam. They are not shy any more.
In the early twentieth century, the first documentary film about birds in the Netherlands was made. The film maker was Alphonse Burdet from Switzerland, a friend of Thijsse. The short silent movie is about a coot and a great crested grebe, nesting closely together. It was filmed on Texel island, then, as now, with a reputation of being a better habitat for birds than the Dutch mainland. The film became famous, for depicting a situation which was rare then for most people. A nature reserve on Texel was called Burdet’s Hop (it is part of the bigger reserve Dijkmanshuizen now).
Today, you can see interaction between coots and grebes in many places. What will “my” coots and grebes do this spring?