Highlands & Islands

Rafts boost black-throated diver numbers in Highlands

Diver on a raft
Image caption A nesting diver on a raft in a north west Highland loch

Artificial rafts covered in vegetation are helping to raise the breeding population of one Scotland's rarest birds, according to the RSPB.

Black-throated divers only breed at freshwater lochs in the north west Highlands.

The birds nest close to water which makes them vulnerable to flooding.

Image caption Black-throated divers are one of Scotland's rarest birds

Since tethered rafts were introduced to lochs in the late 1980s, RSPB Scotland said numbers of breeding pairs had risen from 180 to 240 last year.

The charity said landowners had played a key part in the project.

Stuart Benn, RSPB Scotland conservation manager, said: "Black-throated divers are arguably the most stunning of British birds, a gorgeous, sleek combination of black, grey and white, with never a feather out of place.

"It is fantastic to see these charming birds successfully breeding on our lochs.

"This is a great example of how, through simple measures, we can give nature a home and have a huge impact on the success of a struggling species."

Previously, rafts have also been suggested as a way of helping another rare bird, the Slavonian grebe.

In the UK breeding pairs of the colourful bird can only be found in northern Scotland.

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