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Old 12-12-17, 03:12 PM
Hatchling Member
Join Date: Oct 2017
Posts: 5
Default Sea bird troubles

Hi and thanks for adding me on to your forum. I love bird watching and am getting more confident the more I get out.

yesterday I took a picture of this bird which is giving me a little trouble though, would anyone mind ID'ing it for me please?
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Old 12-12-17, 04:30 PM
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 124

Hello Katrina and welcome,
Could you say where you took the photo please? - and do you have any more photos.

The bird is a diver, but the question is which one. The only one I can safely rule out is a Red-throated as the bill is too heavy and the forehead too peaked. Given it was taken recently the dark 'collar' at the base of the neck suggests with Great Northern or (much rarer) White-billed. The pale, upwards pointed bill and the extensive collar I think point to the rarer White-billed, but to positively ID it as such you'd need some better photos I think.

That said it's not clear what looks like a dark collar isn't the shadow of the head on the neck, in which case a Black-throated is still a possibility, although I think the neck markings are too smudgy.

Overall GND or WTD. First more likely by far, but some features point to latter.

Sorry to not be more conclusive, but winter divers can be tricky without (several) good photos - for me at least.
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Old 12-12-17, 07:12 PM
Join Date: Nov 2017
Posts: 83

I was going to say Great Northern Diver, but as I have never seen a White-billed Dive so could not rule that one out. be interesting to know which ever one it is.
Welcome to the forum.
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Old 12-12-17, 07:29 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Posts: 5

Thanks for the welcome and advice

I had a suspicion of diver but not sure.

The picture was taken just south of Turnberry in South Ayrshire. There were black-throated divers present to the south but this one was on its own further north. Can't see a white flank on to be sure.
unfortunately this is the only picture I have
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Old 14-12-17, 10:46 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Knaresborough N. Yorkshire
Posts: 396

Looks like a great northern diver, but from this picture hard to say for definite
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Old 14-12-17, 01:02 PM
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 680

I can see why White-billed Diver has been mentioned for this bird, but like others I suspect that it is more likely to be a Great Northern.

While the bill does appear pale, and seems to be held at an upturned angle, I suspect that the colour is a result of reflected light.
The fact that the photo is slightly out of focus (no doubt due to having been taken from a long distance) makes it impossible to get a proper assessment of the bill shape, and other details, that would be necessary to confirm an identification (especially if it was the scarcer specie). Great Northern Divers will hold their bills at an angle, it is the shape of the bill of White-billed that is more important than how it is held.

Best thing in this case is to say that this is most likely a GN Diver but that it can't be confirmed.
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