Paul Hobson records the courtship of the great crested grebes.
I HAVE always found our (myself included, I must admit) increasing fascination with the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing something of an oddity. The art, grace, serenity and beauty seem so out of keeping with the usual fare served up by our TV channels. True, it still caters to the modern cult of celebrity (some of whom I have never heard of) but that probably has more to do with my own choice of media viewing – as an ageing child of the 1970s – than anything else. Every time I watch ‘Strictly’ (and that’s every week during the autumn), I try to match the dance moves with those I’ve seen in the natural world. Most of the time this is difficult, although the Argentine tango always brings to my mind the nervous dance of small, male spiders trying to woo their larger, potentially cannibalistic, mates.
However, the dance that really has echoes in the natural world is the Viennese waltz. The subtle head movements and serene quality of the pair floating across the dance floor can certainly be seen in the elegant courtship of great crested grebes in spring.
Luckily, in Derbyshire we have many opportunities to watch this most elaborate of bird dances throughout early spring. Virtually every lake, reservoir and many of the large ponds will have a pair or more of grebes. In particular, the lakes at Hardwick, Butterley, Staunton Harold and Williamthorpe and the River Trent are usually graced by their presence.
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