With a shake of the head, dressed fit for a Tudor ball, the dance commences. Another shake, a bow, followed by a mock preen - all mirrored by his partner. He leads her through this routine for several minutes, repeating the pattern of moves. Until at the appointed moment they both disappear under the water, only to appear again yards apart, bills spilling over with quite unattractive black leaves. They swim towards each other, necks lowered like a knight's lance. Just at the point of impact, they raise out of the water on furiously paddling legs, heads flicking they present their treasures to each other. A final flick of the head to disguard the weeds denotes the end of the dance, the bond formed. Bloomin' lovely.
And where did this ancient ritual unfold? A remote bog in Mudfordshire? Not at all, a local country park - Lakeside, Eastleigh. Acted out within a few feet of families playing and fishermen, well err... fishing. Wildlife on your doorstep.
To consider that great crested grebes were virtually wiped out in Britain by vain ladies of 19th century, thinking that they would look better with feathers on, beggars belief. Thank goodness these sort of practises don't go on today. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!
Thanks to JD for the totally well good tip.
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