Podicipedidae - Grebes
The grebes are aquatic duck-like birds, with representatives on all continents except Antarctica. The fossil record indicates grebes have been around for 70 million years and, in that time they have evolved into proficient underwater hunters. Their legs are set right at the back of the body and they have exceptional flexibility in the ankle and toe joints, allowing the feet (which are lobed) to be used as both paddle and rudder. So adapted are they for an underwater life, they look quite ungainly on land - their nests are usually floating rafts of vegetation both for safety from predators and to save walking.
Two species of grebe are common in Britain, the Great-crested Grebe with its magnificent orange and black ruff is a bird of large lakes, while the more secretive Little Grebe or Dabchick is usually to be found in ditches and streams.