Dad’s diver

When I was about nine, I went on a family holiday to Scotland. This happened to be in an area which was reputed to be good for black-throated divers, so Dad – being a keen birdwatcher – was eager to see one.

Black-throated diver at Chew Valley Lake, while the Sun was still out.

Black-throated diver at Chew Valley Lake, while the Sun was still out.

We trailed off up a remote track to a loch where they were meant to be – only to discover that Dad had read the map wrong, and we got nowhere near. Mum, who had been driving, was Not Happy.

Black-throated diver at Chew Valley Lake

Black-throated diver at Chew Valley Lake

Later, parking by the side of a large loch, Mum – ignorant of the habits of divers – said to Dad, “I don’t know why you don’t look somewhere like here – and what’s that over there?”. Dad suddenly became transfixed: “Good heavens, it’s a black-throated diver!”. He had excellent views, and was enraptured by what he saw.

Black-throated diver at Chew Valley Lake

Black-throated diver at Chew Valley Lake

Being nine, I was unimpressed – but the event stuck in my mind. Thus, when a wintering juvenile black-throated diver arrived at Chew Valley Lake (south of Bristol) in November, and stayed put for a few weeks, I decided that I had to go down to see it.

Black-throated diver at Chew Valley Lake: if you look carefully you can see the diver's feet, much further back than it ducks. This is ideal for a diving bird, but means they find it hard to walk on land.

Black-throated diver at Chew Valley Lake: if you look carefully you can see the diver’s feet, much further back than for ducks. This is ideal for a diving bird, but means they find it very hard to walk on land.

I arrived at Woodford Lodge, happened to see a couple of birders by the lakeside, and asked where the diver could be seen. Although I knew the general area it was likely to be, I was surprised when one of them said “Right here, and there it is, between the pontoon and the fishing net”!

Over the next couple of hours I waited and watched as it patrolled about 30m beyond the shore, constantly diving for food. At first the weather was fine and sunny, but as the sun was often directly behind the bird, it was less than ideal – but then it became overcast and windy, which is not normally good for bird photography but on this occasion was a definite improvement.

The wintering plumage of these divers is less dramatic than in spring – hence the lack of a black throat. I may therefore have to head up north at some point next year…

2 thoughts on “Dad’s diver

  1. Richard

    Thanks for your E mail although we are not dedicated Bird watchers we do have a bird table in view from our lounge.

    Paulette’s biopsy was clear so that’s good news.

    The service conducted by Rev John, which we attended today, was very special and put us in the right frame of mind to the run up to Christmas.

    Look forward to seeing you sometime in the New Year but meanwhile do have a very happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.

    God Bless

    Paulette and Bill Fletcher

    Date: Sat, 21 Dec 2013 14:11:52 +0000 To: billfletcher766@hotmail.com

  2. Pingback: The idyllic Loch Ruthven and its Slavonian grebes | Notes from the river bank

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