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Common Name : Little Grebe     -       Scientific Name : Tachybaptus ruficollis       -       Other Name : Gembi Sera (S)
Avatara Mottai

This species is found in Europe, Asia, New Guinea and most parts of Africa and nine subspecies have been recognized in the world based on size and colouration. The subspecies that is found in the country, T. r capensis is found in Sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar, and in the Indian subcontinent extending to Burma. The conservation status of this species is regarded as “Least Concerned” (National Red List 2012).

This is a species protected under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance as amended by Act No. 22 of 2009.

This active little bird is a resident species, which is commonly found throughout the low country water bodies. This is our smallest swimming bird; it prefers lakes and tanks where the surface is covered with water plants such as Lotuses and other species of water lilies. Even though I have seen this species a couple of times at Lake Gregory in Nuwara Eliya, it is not a common species in the hills and prefers the large sheets of water in the low country. It is equally common in the wet as well as the dry zone lakes and tanks.

I have observed this bird in the Mannar Island, through out the Jaffna peninsula, Delft Island, Beira Lake in Colombo, all the National parks in the dry and intermediate zones including the Victoria, Randenigala & Rantambe National park and all the static water bodies in the wet zone.

Its shrill long drawn call is one of the most familiar sounds that can be heard through out the day in the low country tanks where the surface is covered with water plants. Generally a pair or an adult with one or two young can be seen swimming and diving among the foliage. Some times they also congregate in large numbers. In November 2003 I counted 147 of these birds in one flock at Nawadankulama Tank and 124 in February 2011 in a water body on the Delft Island.

In Wilpattu this busy little bird can be found in most water bodies in the company of other waterfowl. Thimbiri Wila is one location where a few of these birds can always be seen.