I think of them in idyllic, isolated expanses of blue, gliding along the surface before effortlessly slipping beneath, swimming down in search of fish. They rise to the air so far from where they submerged you lose track of them. I don’t think of concrete causeways, windsurfing, fishing boats and accessible public toilets. But that’s what we, and the seemingly marooned Black-throated Diver (Gavia arctica) had, at Farmoor reservoir on Saturday.
I’d never seen a Diver in Summer plumage. This bird was beautiful beyond description and the photographs don’t do it justice. The views through the scope were breathtaking. We were on site from about 11am until about 4pm. It really was a bird you could watch for hours and hours, marvelling at the intricate feather patterns contrasting with the dove grey head and the rainbow of colours in the iridescent, black throat.
In the morning, the bird spent a lot of time preening or at least trying to address an area on its belly. It was difficult to make out what exactly was going on but it looked like the bird had some sort of injury. During the afternoon, the bird was very placid, barely moving more than about 50 metres back and forth along the west bank. Its eyes were constantly closing and, in the whole time we were there, it never dived/fed. I don’t suppose there’s likely to be a happy ending, unfortunately.
On a brighter note, the summer plumage Dunlin and Sanderling were full of beans and also brilliant to watch.
Dunlin (Calidris alpina), Farmoor reservoir, 16 May 2015
Sanderling (Calidris alba), Famoor reservoir, 16 May 2015
From left to right: Sanderling, Dunlin, Dunlin
| Sanderling|| Dunlins|