Scarce winter and passage visitor; recorded in all months, with the majority from September to March.
This species was virtually unknown in the counties prior to the 1940s. Browne reported that 'according to Mr Macaulay, one was shot at Saddington Reservoir in 1874 by Mr Kemp . . . but Kemp visited Leicester Museum in January 1888 and on looking at the specimens he could not see one like his own and said it certainly was not Red-necked Grebe but thought it might be Slavonian.' This record has subsequently been ignored by later authors, leaving the first generally accepted record for the counties being of a bird found dying at Stoneygate, Leicester in March 1924. Two further individuals were noted prior to the formation of LROS in 1941: single birds at Swithland Reservoir on March 6th 1926 and Stanford Reservoir some time in 1935.
Since 1940, 137 birds have been found in Leicestershire and Rutland, although the species remained very rare until the 1970s. Between 1940 and 1969 there were records in 16 years, involving 21 individuals, but since 1970 there have been only four years with no new arrivals and a total of 116 birds in this time. During 1940—69, eight birds occurred between September 5th 1945, when one was at Cropston Reservoir and April 14th 1947, when one was found dead at Ashby-de-la-Zouch; otherwise, this species went long periods without being recorded in the counties, including a spell with just one bird between 1956 and 1965. As with a number of other waterbirds, the noticeable increase in records from the mid-1970s onwards can be directly attributed to the creation of Rutland Water. After the first at this site, in February 1979, the Red-necked Grebe has been recorded there in all but four years since, involving 64 individuals. Only 41 birds have been found elsewhere in the same period, meaning this species has only marginally increased as a visitor to the counties' other waters over the last 26 years. Oddly, records dropped off considerably from the late 1990s and there were only ten new individuals recorded between December 1998 and the end of 2005.
Most years see between one and five records, although there were six in 1986, 1988, 1989 and 1993, and seven in 1985 and 1996. However, these totals were completely eclipsed by an impressive 18 in 1979, all of which occurred between January 26th and March 25th and were part of an unprecedented influx into Britain following high pressure over Scandinavia and bitterly cold north-easterly winds (Chandler 1981). Numbers at Rutland Water at this time were remarkable: after one from February 11th to 14th, 13 were present on the 18th, with smaller numbers remaining until March 25th. These numbers were obviously exceptional and the majority of records usually involve single birds. Two have been seen together on eight occasions, all at Rutland Water apart from two at Eyebrook Reservoir on January 11th 1975. Higher counts, all of which occurred at Rutland Water, have been up to five from January 11th to February 20th 1985 and three from March 7th to 21st 1993.
The pattern of records shows that this species is most frequent in the counties during January and February, with notable peaks during the middle ten days of both of these months, reflecting cold weather movements. There is another minor peak in occurrences in late November and birds arriving at this time often remain for much of the winter. Small numbers have occurred during both the spring and autumn passage periods and the only month with no new arrivals is June. In the spring, there have been six new arrivals in April, although none have been after the 14th; however, six birds have arrived in May:
• Rutland Water, May 1st and 2nd 1988.
• Swithland Reservoir, May 12th 1993.
• Rutland Water, May 18th to September 19 th 1985.
• Eyebrook Reservoir, May 25th 1980.
The earliest returning bird was one at Eyebrook Reservoir on July 12th 1980, which remained until September 20th. The only other July record came from the same site in 1995, when one arrived on the 25th and remained until December 31st. This species remains scarce during August, the only records being a juvenile at Thornton Reservoir from August 9th to September 10th 1992 and single birds at Rutland Water from August 14th to September 27th 1992, August 25th to October 26th 1997 and August 26th to October 22nd 1993.
Red-necked Grebes have a propensity to remain for long periods once they arrive in the counties and 42 birds have stayed for more than four weeks. The longest residence was by one which was at Rutland Water for nearly
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