Monday, January 23, 2017

2017 opens with a County First.

A few days back, a birder posted a photo of a Black throated Diver on the Blyth Estuary (Northumberland). When I saw the pic, I thought that it looked a bit odd as it didn't show any white thigh patches, but you know what looking at a single photo is like and the observer was knowledgeable so I left it at that.

The following day or two saw other sightings of Black throated Diver on Cresswell Pond and East Chevington North Pool. It seems there had been an influx of them, except there hadn't, only the one bird was involved.

Once on East Chev, the diver remained fixed for a few days, regularly reported as Black throated by good, reliable, birders, until Friday afternoon that is, when Alan Curry, clearly had his suspicions and left his patch at St Mary's Island to have a look for himself.

Cue message on my phone at 4pm Friday, East Chevington North Pool, 1stW PACIFIC DIVER!

I'm sure no one had predicted that one on the Northumberland list. As it was almost dark, anticipation was mounting in the local birding community by those who had not been to the site, would it be there on Saturday?

I met up with John first thing and off we went on a lovely sunny frosty morning to see if it was still around. A small crowd had gathered at dawn and as it grew daylight, our target could be seen fishing, distantly right out in the open, giving decent scope views, but no good for photos. Never mind, it was No 340 on my county list, so photos were not a priority. I did a few quick pencil sketches on site and added a splash of colour as soon as I got home while still fresh in the memory. Brilliant.

East Chevington North Pool, site of Pacific Diver on Saturday morning.

Pacific Diver Gavia pacifica 

Later on, we found that the diver had flown slightly north onto Druridge Bay Country Park and was giving point blank views to all and sundry, with some excellent photos being taken. Unable to get back down on Saturday due to other commitments, we returned on a dull, cold, Sunday morning for a re-match, and hopefully closer views.

Sure enough, after a short drive around via Snab Point and Druridge Pools where we had a few padders - 1000+ Pink footed Geese, Barnacle Goose, Grey Partridge, 3 Stock Doves, a Ruff, and 2 drake Pintail, we were back at DBCP with the diver showing down to 20 or 30 feet at times. Although it was dull, we all took enough photos to make an A List celeb happy, whilst catching up with friends not seen in a while. A few other birds were noted too while we were here, Peregrine, a Water rail flew over the diver's head at one point, 60+ Siskins and a Kingfisher, so an excellent morning was had...

And to think, 10 years ago we hadn't heard of Pacific Diver when the first was found on a pond in Yorkshire. Since then there have only been 6 records up to 2013, almost all down in the far south west. I wonder if they have been overlooked?

A Northumberland twitch - a mega too.
Pacific Diver showing faint throat strap and dark thigh area.

Note smallish bill and pale greyish fluffy nape and crown.


matt knott said...

Hi Stewart - love this post. It's great for me sitting down here in Devon to see photos of the sites mentioned on birdguides (East Chevington looks fantastic) - putting the bird in context. The diver photos are superb but it's the field sketches that I really like. Just brilliant. All the best. Matt

Amanda Peters said...

Looking back your birding year has started of pretty well apart from the bad cold, great photos of the PACIFIC DIVER.
Was hoping to get a few more gulls on my bird list this year, and planed to photograph the stages of plumage, mainly in gulls I would see near home.
WHAT a complicated subject to pick !!! I was very naive about how many stages a gull can go through in it's life time.
Amanda xx

Mike Langman said...

Great sketches Stewart, the notebook lives on..

Stewart said...

Matt - Thanks for that glad you liked it.
Amanda - Gulls are a good local subject. There are only 5 common inland species with about 3 plumages each (give or take)...15 - 20 pics, there you go! :)

Mike - Coming from you Mike thats welcome praise indeed, thank you...

Amanda Peters said...

Thanks Stewart, you make it sound a lot less complicated than the internet :)

Stewart said...

Lol - I always think its best to start simple when identifying birds. That way you become familiar with the common locals so when something unusual turns up it might stand out as something different.