After an unproductive sea-watch in the Bay (I really hoped that there would be something brought in by the gales off shore), I decided to have a look at Dover Harbour, as I had to go down that way. I hoped that the Red-throated Diver would be there, possibly with some new arrivals.
I soon located a Red-throated Diver a little way out from the pier and it gave me a wave, even though it obviously was a different bird from the one I'd photo'd a few days ago.
Further along the pier there was a second Red-throat, that was in the same plumage as last week's bird.
Both birds drifted in towards the pier and also towards each other. The much darker face and plainer back on the first bird that I saw today looks to me like a first winter bird, but I'm no expert on diver plumages.
Next to each other it was easy to see the much cleaner look of the second bird, with a plainer neck and whiter cheek, and also a more patterned back. These are, I think, characteristics of an adult bird in winter garb.
There were eight Great-crested Grebes about and they mostly stayed further away. A couple of times one drifted closer to the pier and the similarities in structure, and differences in jizz to divers could be seen. For instance both families have their legs set far back on their bodies, but the longer, "snakier" neck and "tailess" back end of the grebe give it a less sleek look on the water.In the picture of the grebe above and the diver below the difference in the stern end shape is obvious.
I was surprised when I looked at the pictures I'd taken, how often the divers seemed to have their eyed closed. It is always a worry that birds seeking shelter are less than 100% healthy. I didn't see these birds feeding at all, butit may be that they were already well fed and just digesting their meals.
Around 1200 pairs of Red-throated Divers breed in Great Britain and Ireland, all in Scotland except of a small population of less than ten pairs in Ireland. Over half are in Shetland. Birds in summer plumage are a fabulous sight. I did get some distant pictures of breeding birds in Spitsbergen.