I had a message that there was a Red-Throated Diver, Gavia stellata, in one of Westray’s many bays a few days ago. The chances are that it’s still there. How do I know that? Divers have a simultaneous wing moult; they lose all of their flight feathers at the same time and become flightless for three or four weeks. I climb up the back of the pebble bank at the top of the bay and lie flat with binoculars looking out to sea. There are Starlings in the tangles, gulls on the rocks and a Grey Seal head bobbing up and down. Then I see it flap ineffectually, and know I’ve found it.
I wait until it dives and run down the beach to the shoreline and crouch waiting for it to surface.
I love the drips from its partial wings. I get as close to it as possible, by guessing where it’s likely to surface after a dive and running along the slippery seaweed and shiny rocks to be opposite it when it returns.
The next evening I’m back and spot it again. This time I’m only passing through, so get a few distant shots in evening light.
Soon it will be gone, but for now I’m going to enjoy its enforced stay with us.
Red-Throated Diver, it’s been a pleasure to see you.