Birdwatchers have been flocking to Bangor over the last fortnight to catch a glimpse of the rare Red-necked Grebe, which has been seen fishing regularly in the Menai Strait, just meters away from Bangor Pier.

The red-necked grebe, which is hardly ever seen in Wales, is a migratory aquatic bird usually found in the mild regions of the northern hemisphere. Its wintering habitat is largely restricted to calm waters just beyond the waves around ocean coasts, although some birds may winter on large lakes.

Elliot Montieth, a birdwatcher from Cheshire, made the trip down to Bangor to see the Red-necked Grebe. Elliot said: “I was pretty made up to see this adult in the waters off Bangor.

“The British Trust for Ornithology say only around 55 birds over winter in UK waters, though the species is declining in both summer and wintering populations.

“The sightings of the species in Wales has ranged between 0-5 per year in recent times.

“It acquires the distinctive red neck plumage during the breeding season, contrasting from the pale grey plumage during winter. It also has an elaborate courtship display and a variety of loud mating calls. Once paired, it builds a nest from water plants on top of floating vegetation in a shallow lake or bog, similar to other grebe species.

“The conservation status of the Red-necked Grebe in Britain is Red; same as European Turtle Dove and Common Cuckoo. This is due to a recent Breeding Population Decline. The species is a rarity anywhere away from the west and southern coast of Britain where even there it’s a scarce visitor.”

Photos: Elliot Montieth