A Grutness resident made an exciting ornithological discovery earlier this month, when he found the first Pacific diver ever to be seen in Scotland.
Andy Flaws was justifiably pleased with himself when he saw what appeared to be a black-throated diver in summer plumage in the bay outside his house. This is a rare bird in Shetland with on average just one or two a year seen in the islands.
Andy mentioned the diver to Paul Harvey, of Shetland Biological Records Centre, who was birdwatching in the Grutness area at the time. Paul soon found the bird but noticed that a number of subtle features suggested it might be a much rarer species. Paul contacted Roger Riddington who, importantly, was able to secure some photographs of the individual.
Unfortunately the diver flew off strongly south just 15 minutes later, but the photographs do indeed confirm that the bird is the first Pacific diver ever to have been seen in Scotland.
Pacific divers breed in far-eastern Siberia and north-western North America where they are the ecological counterpart of the black-throated diver, which breeds across Europe and Asia. The species spends the winter off the Pacific coasts of North America and eastern Asia, as its name suggests, so this individual is some way from home.