White-billed Diver – 1999 first for Pembrokeshire

Gavia adamsiiTrochydd PigwenVagrant

Breeding range is in high latitudes of the old USSR and parts of North America but distribution is not fully known. In the western Palearctic they winter along the coast of Norway with infrequent occurrences further south.

An adult was seen passing Strumble Head on the 27th September 1999.

Five observers were assembled in “The Lookout” building logging passing birds, mostly seabirds. The observers were:  Cliff Benson, Jack Donovan, Graham Rees, Andrew Sinclair and Ray Wilkinson. All were seated and equipped with binoculars and tripod mounted telescopes. They were sheltered from a force six south west wind, the sky was overcast but visibility was good.

As well as a variety of other birds, four separate Red-throated Divers had passed close inshore when Ray “called” another diver approaching, following the same line of flight. This one was larger with a slower wing beat than the Red-throated’s and when it came level with the observation point exhibited a large slightly yellow white bill which appeared curved upwards. All other visible features were noted and some sketches made, enabling a positive identification as a White – billed Diver and the assessment that it was an adult in transition between summer and winter plumage.

The record was duly accepted by the BBRC and to date remains the sole recorded occurrence for Pembrokeshire and the second for Wales.

Graham Rees (County bird recorder 1981 to 2007)

More about the White-billed Diver in Pembrokeshire