Red Throated Divers

Suspecting from casual observations from the seafront that there were quite a lot of Red Throated Divers around, I got down to Rock-a-Nore at first light. Even while it was still quite dark, groups of divers started moving west, their numbers increasing and reminding my of my record count of 512 in 1.75 hrs on Jan 18 2009.

However, this impressive count was quickly passed, and after 90 minutes no less than 1334 had headed west and the movement [presumably a feeding movement by the local population]  seemed to stop. My attempt to leave then failed as my car wouldn’t start, and while I was waiting for the rescue service,not watching continuously,  a minimum of 160 more flew west. The total of 1500 + shows just how important this area is for Red Throated Divers  [in nearly 50 years birding I’ never seen anything like this], it included 3 flocks of 150 birds each. Although all these birds moved west, quite a lot stopped briefly on the sea.

There were at least 2 Black Throated Divers, 40 Gannets and 50 auks, mostly going west, also some distant large skeins of geese which were not necessarily Brents, and an Eider near the breakwater


4 responses to “Red Throated Divers

  1. A long walk today after a late start – from the town via Alexandra Park to St Leonards and the prom – on to Glyne Gap and then back via Pebsham marsh and Filsham marsh and South Saxons. I recorded 50 or so bird species and the highlights for me were;-

    a flock of 8 Velvet scoters passing east off Warriors Square. 2 Red-breasted mergansers west there. At least 25 Common Scoters on the sea and a party of 25 Wigeons east. A single Slavonian grebe and many great crested grebes and Red-throated divers.
    At Alexandra park a female Mandarin. 40 or more Siskins in Alders a very good count for me there.
    A Little egret flew up from the embanked stream flowing into South Saxons.

    Best Wishes


  2. Amazing count Alan! They were moving around all the time at Pett Level but nothing like these numbers. However, there were other distractions there. I can’t recall seeing more than 500 there before. Linked with the Rye Bay/Lade GC Grebe flock, seemingly the biggest in the UK this does indeed underline the importance of these shallow waters.

  3. Hi Alan,
    As per my SOS posting I too saw an incrediable number of RTDs passing the sea wall at Pett Pools about lunchtime on the lst Jan. However all the birds I watched were travelling east. There were so many of them in a continuous line quite easy to see through the scope. I am still wondering why the birds you saw were all going West and the birds I saw were travelling East. Is there a gigantic roundaabout somewhere out there?
    Kind regards, Audrey Wende (I like your snowy bits on this website!)

  4. Interesting observation Audrey! This indicates there was probably a massive nocturnal roost inshore and offshore from Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve and the flock dispersed east and west from the roost in the morning to feed. Large nocturnal roosts of red-throated divers have been observed before at Hastings.

    The shallow inshore waters between Hastings and Dungeness are probably of national, maybe international, importance for red-throated divers and great crested grebes and the evidence is mounting up in recent years.

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