Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Dover Delivers Divers

3rd- 5th December. Dover Harbour

Our son was home over the weekend so I only had 2 short sessions at down at Dover Harbour – since it had been a bit blowy expectations of a diver or two were pretty high – I was disappointed.
On Saturday there were 17 gt crested grebes but no divers. I found 2 guillemots; one out by the cruise terminal and one by the lifeboat station. As the sun was shining yet more pictures were taken:

The only other birds of note were 2 kittiwakes and a peregrine that went over low as I was departing from the Prince of Wales Pier.
Sunday was even quieter with only 14 great crested grebes and one guillemot. There was a colour ringed herring gull (red ring) in the now empty inner harbour but I could get close enough to read the number.
After such a quiet session (I departed at 10.00) it was a shock to see the great northern diver posted by Chidders and Martyn. It seems they got there at around midday after doing a harrier count at Grove/Stodmarsh and had 2 great northern and 2 red throated divers, 6 guillemots and a host of gannets going past the harbour mouth. Chidders had sent me a text but I didn’t notice it.
I’ve only really seen one great northern (at Reculver a couple of years ago) so it was obvious where I was going on Monday – especially with it being sunny. I arrived at ~8.00am and found Phil Smith already in situ. On Sunday the bird was over by the Admiralty Pier but on Monday it was in the main harbour – Phil, had had it by the Prince of Wales pier but by the time I gt there it was swimming east just off the beach. We did start to follow it but it soon turned back towards the PoW Pier and with the 2 of us in its wake.
Steve Raynaert turned up at this point and we filled out boots – the bird coming within 20-30 yards of the pier in bright sunshine. On the photographic front it has proved very difficult to get the colours of the bird and the sea correct – the white balance really struggling with blue sky, a dark bird and reflected light (or it may be I don’t remember what the colours were correctly). When in direct light the bird appears too brown and in the shade the darker parts appear too blue – all a little frustrating but it will give me something to do when it next rains.
GND looking brown

GND looking blue (and brown)

Eventually the bird set sail across the harbour and took up station over by the ferry terminal. It was at this time that Tony Morris turned up – I think Tony likes his bed too much on these cold mornings - and a little later Steve Ashton arrived followed by Colin Fisher.
The bird did return to the pier for a short period then set off along the beach again and whilst we were watching it a red throated appeared just in front of us. It soon swam out of shot along the beach without me getting a decent image. Our joy turned to sorrow at this point because in quick succession both the great northern and the red throat took to the air.
GND going for a fly around

Red Throated Diver departing

The red throat continued out to sea but the great northern went into the cruise terminal basin but soon returned to the PoW pier – much to everyone’s relief.  The great northern itself still had some signs of its summer plumage – dark smudges on its face, white spots on its greater coverts(?) and the throat band still being visible (just). I was amazed at just how wide its head is relative to the throat:-
Smudges on it's face

Note the wide head

Also of note in some pictures was the heavy forehead though in others it was invisible.
Heavy Forehead shot
Eventually the great northern moved out of shot but that wasn’t the end of proceedings as a juvenile gannet flew into the harbour, did a circuit then went back from where it came and we found Stumpy on the pier.
Juvenile Gannet



  1. great write up all i can say look at your phone lol great photos

  2. Nice account of some great birds Steve.

  3. Hi Mike H

    Ja też zgadzają się, że te malownicze są piękne i podróżując przez promem można cieszyć się podróż i uzyskać informacje na temat różnych gatunków ptaków i od ptaki zbyt.