What Little Grebes learn at Sunday School

Family entertainment for this family of Little Grebes might be, in all seriousness, a training session for the future. Notes from a morning well spent...

Early one Sunday morning, a fortnight after I got my new lens, I headed out to Madiwala Lake. Roaming around, I encountered a family of four Little Grebes (Tachybaptus ruficollis). The chicks, more like subadults, were almost adult size; only their plumage was different. I watched the adults do their usual stuff -- swimming, followed by quick, silent dives for food. The chicks also followed suit.

Adult grebe displaying
As the grebes were quite shy, I sat myself down beside the water so that they got used to me. Although they kept their distance, they went about their business. Suddenly, one adult raised itself up, called and, literally, started running over the water. A chicks immediately responded by doing just the same. 

The adult picking up speed
The adult bird was always first to start the sprint after a short, quick call, with the chick in hot pursuit.  They would run rapidly for a distance and then slide back onto the water on their bellies before coming to a stop.

End of the sprint
This behavior continued for a while, with multiple 'walking sessions' extending for almost half an hour.

The grand finish - the belly slide
Only one adult and chick exhibited this particular behavior; the others kept to themselves all the while.

The adult watches the chick come to stop
All I could assume was that this was some kind of training session for the chick. It was a grand spectacle to behold, with the two birds beating their wings and running together over the water, splashing it in every direction!

Text and Photos: Arun