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Red-throated Diver Energetics Project

Can red-throated divers accommodate the effects of displacement by offshore wind farms?

JNCC Statement on Red-throated Diver Energetics Project Fieldwork during the Coronavirus Pandemic

20 May 2020

On 23 March 2020, the UK government issued measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus; these measures were updated for England only on 10 May 2020. Measures in Scotland still require that to protect yourself and others, people should stay at home, and only go outside for essential food, health and work reasons. 

Fieldwork for the Red-throated Diver Energetics Project in Scotland would not be compliant with current measures as the work would require working with people from other households and leaving home for non-essential reasons.

It is essential that those involved with the Red-throated Diver Energetics Project in Scotland follow the latest Scottish Government advice to ensure their own safety and well-being and to prevent the transmission of the virus. Consequently, JNCC will not be contracting fieldworkers to work in Scotland during 2020. In addition, JNCC strongly discourages fieldworkers from choosing to voluntarily undertake fieldwork on the project during 2020 (this is consistent with the JNCC statement on fieldwork for seabird surveys).

In Finland, government restrictions for managing the coronavirus pandemic are currently less stringent than in Scotland. Consequently, it is possible to undertake fieldwork for the Red-throated Diver Energetics Project in Finland whilst adhering to the restrictions imposed. As a result, we will let a contract to ringers in Finland for fieldwork in 2020, which will include a special risk assessment and mitigation statement and will be reviewed frequently to ensure that compliance with Finnish Government requirements continues to be met; this gives us the option to rapidly cease fieldwork if necessary for the health of contractors and the local communities in which they will be operating.

We request all fieldworkers follow their government’s advice and adhere to all restrictions.

We hope that we will be able to resume the remaining fieldwork in 2021.

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Offshore wind farms cause displacement of red-throated divers but the consequences are unknown.  This project aims to obtain empirical data on the proportion of time divers spend foraging, from which their ability to accommodate additional energetic costs of displacement can be inferred.

Red-throated diver on a loch (@ Petteri Lehikinen / Avescapes)

Red-throated diver on a lake. (Photo: Petteri Lehikoinen / Avescapes)


Work involved

Red-throated divers are tagged with geolocators and time-depth recorders to reveal where and for how long divers forage during the non-breeding season. Adults breeding in Scotland, Finland and Iceland were tagged during the 2018 and 2019 breeding seasons, with tags retrieved during 2019 and further retrievals planned for 2020. Data analysis will provide an indication of where each individual wintered and detailed information on dive depth, duration and frequency. If divers forage for only a small part of each day, it could be inferred they are easily capable of meeting their energetic requirements in the non-breeding season and so may have the capacity to accommodate the additional energetic costs of displacement.

Birds are fitted with special rings and tags to track location and record time and depth of dives. (Photo: Petteri Lehikoinen / Avescapes)


Key outcomes

  • Improve knowledge on diver activity budgets and energetics;
  • Fill a key marine industry knowledge gap on the capacity of divers to accommodate offshore wind farm effects;
  • Decrease consent risk for future offshore wind farm development in areas of high diver density.


Key partners

This project, initiated, developed and delivered by JNCC, comprises a strong international partnership of government, industry, academia and ornithology experts in Denmark, the UK, Finland and Iceland. It is funded by government (BEIS Offshore Energy SEA fund, managed by Hartley Anderson Ltd), industry (Ørsted, Equinor, Vattenfall) and by The Crown Estate. Additionally, the Red-throated Diver Energetics Project includes a CASE PhD studentship, funded by NERC and the University of Liverpool, with JNCC as CASE partners.



Reports and work products


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