New England Tablelands

To: "birding-aus, birding-aus" <>
Subject: New England Tablelands
From: "Caroline Allen" <>
Date: Thu, 9 Jan 2003 21:53:37 +1100
>We noticed a common 'pairing' of individual
> Hardheads and individual Grebes, mostly Hoary-headed but sometimes also
> Australasian.  That is to say, an isolated 'pair' would swim together
> within a metre of each other and with nothing else nearby, and would
> dive and surface more or less synchronously, as if the one (the Duck?)
> was disturbing prey for the other (the Grebe?).  Has anyone else
> observed this apparently symbiosis?

I have seen this occur between a pair of Hoary-headed Grebes that shadowed a
pair of Hardheads at Banyule Flats Reserve in Melbourne.  I noted the
behaviour as odd, but could find no explanation for it other than that which
you came up with -- the Grebes taking advantage of the Duck's food
searching.  The Grebes that I saw were very closely shadowing the Hardheads
(without 1-2 feet) and diving a split second after the ducks.  Are there any
scientific souls out there that could explain this for me.  I'm a
comparatively unseasoned birder, especially with waterbirds, so if this has
come up before somewhere (or the explanation is common knowledge) please
pardon my ignorance.

Caroline Allen
Preston, Victoria.

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