You could best describe the Mere Gull roost as lacklustre. It certainly
lacked large Gulls but there were at least 2,000 Black headed Gulls - surely a Med Gull mixed in with them? As I extended the sweep further out, at least half way over the Mere, I suddenly locked onto an interesting Grebe! It was quite active and hard to keep onto, my instant impression - an odd Great-crested?? It was one hell of a long way off though and looked small but there was no comparison for size other than the Gulls it was seemingly trying to distance itself from! Eventually it latched onto and stayed with a couple of Great-crested Grebes - it was clearly something special!
The main overriding feature was the long dark bill which had a striking distinct orange-yellow base. In the gloom, this was the only 'colour' visible. The head shape was similar to Great-crested, appearing almost rounded on occasions - (Black-necked was easily discounted!) So that left Slavonian which seemed possible from the plumage, apparent size and head or Red-necked which certainly fitted the bill on every count (literally!!)
Yvonne stayed on it whilst I nipped back to the car - the camera was finally coming out of the bag! Luckily the Grebes were now out in open water but still over 100m distant, it was now 5.30pm and virtually no light left. Amazingly, (at ISO 1600) I got a few record shots which blown up on the camera back confirmed - we were both convinced - it had to be - Red-necked Grebe!
I sent images to Andy and after nearly talking myself into Slav contention (mainly due to apparent small size), checked my images from the Fairhaven RN Grebe almost 12 months previous to the day. That bird was under my feet, this one was half way over the Mere! I'm now in no doubt personally, one and the same species - Red-necked Grebe is on my list :-)
What an end to the day! Not an Owl on the list either but who cares!
In the gloom, viewed from the The Mere 'Promenade' at 5.30. Yes, it's a Red-necked Grebe......