Seven black-necked grebes chicks have hatched at Arundel Wetland Centre between May 29 through July 4 this year. Arundel Wetland Centre is the only attraction with black-necked grebe chicks in the UK and in all of Europe. The oldest chick named Pumpkin hatched on May 29th and the youngest known as Pea hatched on July 4th.
Black-necked grebes are difficult to breed in captivity.
Sam McKinlay Head Keeper at Arundel Wetland Centre said:
“Our success with these lovely birds is down to the quality of naturally chalk-filtered water onsite, the moving water in the exhibit and our team’s careful monitoring of the birds and their eggs.”
Arundel Wetland Centre received three black-necked grebes from Rotterdam Zoo in the Netherlands in April 2020 and another three from private breeders in October of 2021. One pair successfully hatched one chick in summer of 2021.
There are only about 50 breeding pairs of back-necked grebes in the wild in the UK. There are about 120-130 birds wintering in the UK in coastal areas like Langstone Harbour, Poole Harbour and Fal Estuary. They are vulnerable to sea pollution.
The WWT Keepers are using their expertise on raising black-necked grebes to write a husbandry guide as part of the EEP [European Ex Situ Programme) to ensure a population of healthy birds exists for future conservation efforts.
The stunning Black-necked Grebe is one of the smallest residents at the wetland centre with adults weighing in at less than 350g. They have very sharp bills and legs placed quite far back on their bodies, allowing them to dive to catch insects and small fish.
Visitors can see the black-necked grebe chicks in the Waterfalls exhibit at Arundel Wetland Centre this summer.
Adult with black-necked grebe chick photographed by visitor Richard Allan