Photographer: © Добромир Добринов
L 40-46 cm. Breeds on reeded waters, often smaller and more vegetated than for Great Crested. Winters on coasts, occasionally lakes, reservoirs, in W and S Europe. Mostly shy and retiring habits, reluctant to expose itself much. IDENTIFICATION: Slightly smaller than Great Crested, with shorter, stockier neck and often small ‘powder puff’ rear end (shape thus between Great Crested and Horned); bill slightly shorter, more wedge-shaped and held slightly down, often giving subtle drooping effect unlike Great Crested. In flight, less skinny than Great Crested, with shorter, dark neck and less prominent white on shoulder. Unlike Great Crested (but like smaller grebes), dives usually with pronounced jump clear of water. - Adult summer: Unmistakable; courtship display as Great Crested. Small clear-cut yellow patch at base of bill. - Winter: Head pattern without sharp black and white contrast as on Great Crested and Horned; whitish or pale buff throat and light ‘hook-back’ behind ear-coverts contrast diffusely against dusky ear-coverts and extensively grey upper foreneck; breast often whitest part. A hint of the yellow patch at bill-base visible when close. - Juvenile: Like winter, but cheeks and ear-coverts whitish with thin dark stripes, and upper foreneck and neck-sides reddish-brown; yellow bill-base not clear-cut, and is more extensive than on adult. VOICE: Noisy when breeding. Display-calls include loud, repeated, grating ‘cherk, cherk, cherk, …’ and drawn-out, wailing and mournful ‘aaoouuh’, which can turn into pig-like squeals (recalling Water Rail but much louder and longer, and more baleful tone). Silent in winter.