Little Grebe

spectrogram_4s_LG_squealOne of the biggest surprises for me when starting nocmig recording was to learn that Little Grebes produce two night flight calls that are completely different to the familiar daytime song. Both these calls may be heard from March to October in UK.

The first is a clear, piercing rising squeal, given single or in pairs as in the example (right and below). The call can be heard from birds on water after dark. Xeno-canto examples here and here.


The second call is a series of pips followed by a rapid trill. The trill part is so reminiscent of a Whimbrel flight call I wonder if I have mistaken the two in the past. Both trills are at c. 2.5kHz; whereas Whimbrel trills may be constant pitch, rising or falling through the trill, Little Grebe trills are either constant or slightly falling in pitch. The key to distinguishing from Whimbrel seems to be the presence of the preceding pips, of which there may be as few as two. Little Grebe trills appear to be slightly slower, longer and sometimes less regularly spaced. Xeno-canto examples here and here. The example below is not the best – I have yet to record a really clear one – and the initial pips are unusually low. I’ll replace with a better example when I have one…



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