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New webcam offers wonderful views of nesting red-throated divers

Last modified: 26 June 2015

Red throated diver, summer plumage, wing flapping

Red-throated diver

Image: Roger Wilmshurst

A new wildlife webcam based in Orkney is now online at, offering a rare glimpse into the life of a pair of red-throated divers. 

The birds are nesting on a remote moorland lochan on one of our Orkney nature reserves. Up to 100 pairs of these beautiful and elusive birds nest on Orkney’s heather-clad islands, roughly a tenth of all the red-throated divers in the UK.

In spring, pairs perform captivating courtship displays involving synchronised dips and dives and haunting yodelling. The birds then nest on the edge of secluded peaty lochans, incubating the eggs for about four weeks and then raising the young together over the following two months.

Once the chicks hatch they’re quickly at home in the water. The adult birds fly back and forth to nearby coastal areas like Scapa Flow hunting for small fish to feed them.

Pairs are fiercely territorial and if another bird lands on this lochan you may also witness a spectacular display of posturing, splashing and wailing.

Red-throated divers are very sensitive to disturbance so this is a rare opportunity to see them up close. We'll be posting updates on the family's progress at RSPB Orkney on Facebook and if you’d like to watch a nesting pair in real life without risk of disturbing them, try visiting our new Birsay Moors hide overlooking another breeding lochan in Orkney.

We are grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund and the European Regional Development Fund for funding which enabled the purchase and set-up of this webcam through the RSPB’s Enjoy Wild Orkney project.

How you can help

Nature in the UK is in trouble and some of our more familiar garden species are amongst those suffering serious declines. We can all help by giving nature a home where we live.

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