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Great Northern Diver

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Old Tuesday 9th December 2003, 17:06   #1
Stephen Dunstan
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Great Northern Diver

This morning was a fairly typical one on Blackpool Prom in winter - rain holding off, but sea mist preventing longer range observation of the sea. A group of Great Crested Grebes and a few Common Scoter were lingering off my favoured shelter for seawatching.

Then just as I was about to pack up and head into work a 'first winter Cormorant' heading south close in proved to be a magnificent Great Northern Diver. They are pretty scarce in Lancs (formerly a description bird) but do enough seawatching and you'll get them in the end. However to get one as close as this bird was awesome, it was great to pick up some of the features in the Flight ID guide in terms of head and bill carriage and feet size.

I could have gone to Marbury to see the bird there, but when you get them on your own patch it makes it all worth it, doesn't it?

Stephen.
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Old Tuesday 9th December 2003, 17:09   #2
Jane Turner
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I saw record that on birdguides and thought... I wonder if that is Stephen!
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Old Tuesday 9th December 2003, 17:13   #3
steve_nova
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Hi Stephen, the Great Northern Diver is one of my very favourite birds since I was a Kid, 20...er 30 years ago!
I still havn't seen one. Wonderful, just wonderful.
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Old Tuesday 9th December 2003, 17:30   #4
Stephen Dunstan
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Steve.

How regular are they in Northumberland? I would have guessed they were a little more frequent than over here but these things are sometimes counter-intuitive. Perhaps Michael will tell me.

Jane,

It is nice when you can hazard a guess at the birder involved isn't it. I think it is good that I can usually know who it means by 'Hoylake' now on the pagers.

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Old Tuesday 9th December 2003, 17:36   #5
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Stephen, you are probably right in that they may be more common here but coming into birding quite late ie very late, I havn't as yet seen one.

Last edited by steve_nova : Tuesday 9th December 2003 at 17:39.
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Old Tuesday 9th December 2003, 17:38   #6
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Steve..yes its great!

The code for Hoylake is simple

Seabirds are from my bedroom window, since the prom is too low to see anything... otherwise its Red Rocks or Dovepoint!

Seafront garden with a grid reference is my garden.

Seafront garden and no reference is my neighbours.

On private land means on the Golf Course.

Red Rocks NNR means in or more usually over the marsh!

Not all Hoylake records are me of course.
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Old Tuesday 9th December 2003, 17:39   #7
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I too love those Great Northern Divers, such a grand name that befits a splendid bird. Recently we were on some cliff side park gardens in Sidmouth looking down onto a young one very close. Also saw a second one much farther out to sea.
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Old Tuesday 9th December 2003, 17:41   #8
Stephen Dunstan
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Steve,

Good luck in the future then, they are great birds and I hope you see one soon.

Jane,

Thanks for the guide. I hope your neighbours don't get swamped as a result!

Stephen.
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Old Tuesday 9th December 2003, 17:43   #9
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Thanks Stephen
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Old Tuesday 9th December 2003, 18:17   #10
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Hi Steve and Stephe,

GND's are fairly regular off the north Northumbs coast - best area to look is Stag Rocks north to Holy Island, I'd guess there's about half-a-dozen or so wintering in that area. Views are often rather distant though. For more close-up views, a boat trip out to the Farnes in Nov is the best bet; usually get good views of the ones that winter out there.

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Old Tuesday 9th December 2003, 18:28   #11
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Nice one stephen, what a way to start your day!!
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Old Tuesday 9th December 2003, 18:30   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew
I too love those Great Northern Divers, such a grand name that befits a splendid bird.
I got hooked on them at a very early age (long before I actually saw one) after reading one of Arthur Ransome's books. Oh dear, what an admission!

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Old Tuesday 9th December 2003, 18:34   #13
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Hi Stephen,
Great Northern Diver is by far the most abundant diver species here in Cork,with Red-throated also occurring in decent numbers,albeit less widely distributed.Black-throated is a scarce(but probably annual) visitor to the county:I've yet to see one here!
Despite the northern bias to records of White-billed Diver,the first Irish record was at Lough Hyne(near Skibbereen) in 1974,but there hasn't been a county record since,unsurprisingly.
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Old Tuesday 9th December 2003, 18:45   #14
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Well done Stephen. A winter Great Northern Diver is worth the chill of December.

My first was with John Mather in Filey bay, winter 1967 (I was very young!!!!)

My best GND was the inland find of the summer plumaged adult at Gouthwaite Reservoir, Nr Pateley Bridge, UK, on the 4th August 1992. The bird was absolutely pristine and stayed until the 10th, allowing lots of birders to see it.

John Barclay.

Last edited by john barclay : Wednesday 10th December 2003 at 15:34.
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Old Tuesday 9th December 2003, 19:21   #15
Andrew Whitehouse
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Great stuff Stephen, a GND always helps make a day. In Fife we get them fairly regularly but just odd ones rather than big numbers. Black-throated are pretty scarce and I've hardly seen any away from Largo Bay. Red-throateds seem to like it a lot though, and there's usually several along almost any stretch of coast in the east of Fife.

Of course big numbers of GNDs is another reason to set up a BF trip to Islay. In April - May it's not impossible to see a hundred in a day there, quite a few of which will be starting to get into summer plumage. Jaw dropping stuff. The Islay ferry is pretty great for them as well - I had 121 in one journey this spring.
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Old Tuesday 9th December 2003, 19:36   #16
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Marvellous stuff Fifebirder.
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Old Tuesday 9th December 2003, 20:38   #17
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As Bert has said it was a great way to start the day, and this thread has been a great way to end it. Thanks to everyone for your valued comments.

Regards,

Stephen.
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Old Wednesday 10th December 2003, 14:48   #18
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Stephen, didnt you see the one on southport marine lake a couple of years ago,gave very good views at times!!
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Old Wednesday 10th December 2003, 15:17   #19
Stephen Dunstan
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No Andy. Thinking about it I have never seen an inland GN Diver in Lancs, this would be about my sixth on the sea.

Re the Marbury bird - is it ill/injured or do they all have a reddish patch at the base of the bill?

Stephen.
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Old Thursday 11th December 2003, 03:16   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Dunstan
No Andy. Thinking about it I have never seen an inland GN Diver in Lancs, this would be about my sixth on the sea.

Re the Marbury bird - is it ill/injured or do they all have a reddish patch at the base of the bill?

Stephen.
Lancashire had a GND for quite a while 8 years ago "inland" at Pine lake Carnforth, quite obliging stayed at least a month giving closeup views.

CravenBirds
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Old Thursday 11th December 2003, 06:24   #21
Stephen Dunstan
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Yes there have been one or two 'inland' bird over the years, I just hadn't seen any of them so apologies if I implied there hadn't been any. The few inland divers in Lancs are just as likely to be the scarce / rare BTD and GND as RTD, when the latter are much more numerous on the coast.

The Pine Lake bird actually became very difficult late in its stay because it was commuting regularly to the sea!

Stephen.
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Old Thursday 11th December 2003, 07:37   #22
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Great Northern Diver is probably my favourite bird in Iceland if I'm pushed to name one. It has the most exquisite plumage and come May their spine-tingling laughing call resounds through the still, bright nights in the countryside and virtually every fish-rich lake holds a pair, including two lakes on the outskirts of Reykjavík. BF member Gaukur has a splendid pair on his patch up north.

They're common enough in winter and indeed there was a group of approximately 170 at one location last winter and another birder counted about 270 together at an inland lake in October two years ago, I think the biggest group we've seen here! Some of that lot probably heads over to you in the UK, probably to Islay judging by Fifebirder's post!

Still waiting for my first Black-throated and White-billed Divers though (as is Iceland).

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Old Thursday 11th December 2003, 08:36   #23
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Relative abundances of Divers in Hoylake (just round the corner from Blackpool as the Diver flies)

You are twice as likely to see BTD as GND and 120 times more likely to see RTD.

Sometime I worry about how a***lly retentive I am
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Old Thursday 11th December 2003, 18:05   #24
Stephen Dunstan
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Well I think that's really interesting Jane, but the fact I have a seawatching webpage makes me an unreliable witness.

The highest counts at Starr Gate are when lots are flying past, and distant BTDs are not easy so I don't have this kind of data.

Stephen.
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Old Thursday 11th December 2003, 19:51   #25
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I sometimes have trouble telling big distant BTD from GND... there is another graph for Diver spp!
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