Saturday, 13 July 2013

83. Red-throated Diver (Gavia stellata)

I've been looking forward to this one - I love the divers, and Red-throated is probably my favourite of them all! It is the smallest of the divers (although not much smaller than Black-throated) and breeds in northern Scotland, Iceland and Scandinavia (as well as across Siberia and parts of Canada and North America) on tundra or boggy areas. In winter it is found offshore further south of its breeding grounds. This photo is of the superb summer plumage, but in winter it is a lot plainer, having a white throat and belly, and dark grey above with white speckling. It can be told apart in this plumage from the similar-looking Black-throated Diver by its slightly narrower bill (often held tilted upwards), white extending quite far back around the throat and in front of the eye, and a 'flat-chested' appearance.

Red-throated Diver, ©Steve Garvie, via Wikimedia Commons.
Red-throated Diver drawing.

I spent much longer than my usual 45 minutes on this - it's one of my favourites and I'd had a productive day of studying so I felt I could spare the time! I am pretty happy with it - the shade of red was quite difficult and I don't think I quite got it, but you should have seen my previous attempts.

Until last year I'd only seen Red-throated Divers in winter plumage, and always as pretty distant specks on the sea. So when I visited Iceland last September, getting a good view of one in its handsome summer plumage was near the top of my list! I was not disappointed - the below photo was taken on my wee Canon digital compact which has a pretty negligible zoom - through binoculars I could count the stripes on the back of the diver's head - so I was more than happy with this close Red-throated Diver encounter. Hooray!

It is a Red-throated Diver, honest. Snæfellsnes peninsula, Iceland 07/09/2012.

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