Crested grebes make a splash

An Australian crested grebe leads its chicks along Lake Te Anau.
An Australian crested grebe leads its chicks along Lake Te Anau.

At first there were only two, now it's a family of six.

The pair of Australian crested grebes who have been claiming the spotlight in Te Anau had chicks recently and while there was first thought to be only two chicks, the pair actually had quadruplets.

Department of Conservation ranger Carol Gardner said the four chicks instead of two was an added bonus.

The birds have been attracting attention on the Lake Te Anau as some of the chicks hitch a ride on their mother's back. DOC facts on the birds show they can have between one and seven chicks who remain with their parents until they are 11 weeks old.

Ms Gardner said while she was not an expert on the birds, she had never seen one with four chicks on Lake Te Anau.

It was "delightful" to have the chicks on the lake, she said.

The birds' love life has played out for spectators to watch, like a television drama. Locals have been able to watch the pair's elaborate courting, before settling down to find a home, which is where Ms Gardner came in handy.

She built their home out of an inflatable raft when they could not successfully build a nest.

Now their love story is complete for the breeding season, with what appear to be four healthy children.

Ms Gardner said she looked forward to the next breeding season since this one had been such a success.