The population of the red-throated (above) and black-throated divers is increasing in the UK despite falling dramatically throughout the rest of Europe.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has reported today that a survey it carried out in conjunction with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has revealed a population increase in the UK of black-throated and red-throated divers of 16 and 34 per cent respectively over the past 12 years.

However, the population of black-throated divers has fallen by over 50 per cent in the rest of Europe since 1970, while red-throated diver numbers fell by 30 per cent in Europe between 1970 and 1990. In Shetland, the population has fallen from 700 pairs, in 1983, to 407.

It is thought that the population increase of the black-throated diver is partly thanks to 58 man-made rafts that have been anchored in remote Scottish lochs and help the birds to escape predators and nest safely ? but the increased red-throated diver numbers remain a mystery.

Stuart Benn, Senior Conservation Officer for the RSPB, said in a statement: ‘To be increasing the numbers of these birds while they decline elsewhere is fantastic ? Divers are celebrated in American culture and should be similarly lauded and applauded here. They are brilliant birds.’