The appearance of a Red Throated Diver was well reported over the internet, along with the appearance of a juvenile Orlotan Bunting earlier in the week close by. As I had found an Orlotan Bunting in 2009 without realising it's significance, a view of another wouldn't go amiss, if I wasn't too late. As I was only just down the road and had an hour to spend what better way of catching one or the other... so Fleetwood bound.
The last (and only) Red Throated Diver I had seen was when Brown Trout fishing on a lochen above Loch Ewe in Western Ross (west of Ullapool) two years ago, two adults with two young – one parent (I assume the male) going off fishing and returning with a catch for his young family. The other adult staying on station. While it was a small lochen, the weather was pretty bad (mizzle), the light not good, access limited and while unperturbed by my presence (if they were even aware I was there), they remained on the leeward side just too far away and difficult to approach because of the terrain, and I wasn't going to disturb them, so didn't bother even trying to get closer. I've added a photo of that encounter below.
At Fleetwood Marine Lake, I was fortunate to park up above the lake and getting out of the car saw the tripod and lenses to tell me the Red Throated Diver must still be about. I crept down to one end of the gaggle(?) of photographers and plonked myself on the end, as it happens the end of the island and where the bird was showing. Most of the time it was on the leeward side and with eyes closed.
It disappeared behind the island out of sight for a while as the wind changed direction but then I couldn't believe my luck when it returned and swam past not twenty yards (19mtrs) away. Shutter burn out. The first two images are of that 'swim by'. The bird then disappeared towards the bridge and I stayed put while everyone else went off in search of their photos. The Red Throated Diver returned on the far side of the lake and made or two unsuccessful attempts to get out of the water and stretching its wings but making no attempts at flight or fishing. It then proceeded down the far bank to the east end of the lake.
I joined the other photographers as it was evident it was going to remain at that end. In fact it came towards all the lenses at that end of the lake... incredibly sitting in the water less than 2 yards from the bank edge... and less than 20 yards (19mtrs) away, apparently unconcerned by our presence. The light wasn't great but changed from time to time when the sun made a brief appearance. The Red Throated Diver continued to 'cat-nap' often drifting in the breeze with eyes closed, only twice stretching its wings.
The sun was swinging around and I went over to the seaside of the lake, only for the Red Throated Diver to haul itself out of the water up the bank side and sat on the surrounding concrete edging apparently enjoying the warmth of the sun and heat from the concrete. It remained there undisturbed as most of us departed.
Fingers crossed the bird recovers from whatever ailment, starts feeding and makes it way back to sea and back to its stomping grounds.
I hope the pictures tell the story... what a magnificent bird. I purposely tried to photograph and include the back of it's head to demonstrate the amazing plumage. Of course the search for the bunting never took place and I was hypnotised by this terrific looking, if sadly somewhat poorly bird. Hopefully there will be some updates and positive news to follow.
It was good to see some old faces and chat to fellow photographers – all very knowledgeable and helpful. Thanks folks.
Late news … Sadly, word on the internet is the bird didn't make it and was found dead on Sunday morning... I am sure it will be long remembered.