Surely that’s got to scratch on the way down?

A few days ago I had my first experience of a Great Northern Diver. I was disappointed with my photograph of it on the water but thrilled to get a flypast:

This time I’m clambering down the rocks of Brixham breakwater to see if I can get somewhere near water level. It’s slippery and treacherous when the tide’s out. When I spot a Great Northern Diver disappear under the water I scramble to what I think will be a good spot to see it surface, hoping that it will be close by when it does.

I’m not disappointed.

Great Northern Diver - Brixham - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

What an incredible bird:

Great Northern Diver - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

This one isn’t in its stunning breeding plumage. I’ve never seen one in all its finery.

I’ve seen them diving for crabs in the harbour here. When they surfaced I realised they were pulling their crab apart to remove the legs until only the body remained. They would pull a leg off, dive their head underwater to retrieve the rest of the crab and then repeat. Once the carcass was devoid of legs they would swallow the body whole.

I spot it surface with a crab and take some shots. I’m expecting the same leg-pulling performance. This one, however, decides to ignore all health and safety and swallow this crab whole, legs and all. What follows is not for the squeamish or those with an over-active imagination:

Surely that’s got to scratch on the way down?

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