Good birding at Prospect Reservoir/Great Crested Grebes

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Good birding at Prospect Reservoir/Great Crested Grebes
From: "michael norris" <>
Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2005 01:18:51 +1100
Penny has made me go all nostalgic because I love Hampstead Heath and was
for about 10 years Vice-Chair of the Heath and Hampstead Society, founded
1852 from memory, which had as its main aim to preserve it as semi-natural
country close to central London.

Birded there will other locals like Bill Oddie, Mark Hardwick (editor of the
London Bird Report who sadly vanished in 1998 while travelling here and in
Indonesia- see the archive), Kate Springett an ordinary worker whose legacy
includes financial support for the birds and a kingfisher bank I helped her
to locate, and where kingfishers now breed.  Never met Sting but he also
birded there.

With the Society I managed a campaign in the 1980s which was one of the few
to get Margaret Thatcher to change her mind.  Support from other locals like
Jeremy Irons and Lord Melvyn Bragg, to name a few, helped!

But to Penny's email.  The GC Grebes there are a reminder of two great bird

First it was the near-extinction of GC Grebes in England to provide feathers
for hats which was a major element in the formation of the RSPB - Royal
Society for the Protection of Birds - in 1889 which now has a membership of
around 1 million or 2% of the population.

Second the great biologist Julian Huxley - from a great family - lived
nearby and his observations of GC Grebes largely came from Hampstead Heath.

In 1914 - aged 27 - he published "The Courtship Habits of the Great Crested
Grebe" (London: Birdwatchers' Press).   This describes their amazing
displays - which I often watched there - and asks if evolution to attract
the opposite sex might be dangerous for a species.

Humans obsessed by wasteful consumption, beware!

Michael Norris

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