Common Loon Gavia immer
(aka Great Northern Loon, Great Northern Diver)
Great Northern Diver in summer plumage, Orkney, Scotland, May 2003 - click for larger image Scotland

The Common Loon breeds in Iceland and in Greenland and North America as far south as the Great Lakes. It winters along the coasts to the south such as Scotland where it arrives around August returning to its breeding habitat from early May to mid-June.

Great Northern Diver snorkelling, Orkney, Scotland, May 2003 - click for larger image It holds its heavy looking bill horizontally when swimming and has a rather thick neck and a steep forehead. In summer the head is black and the upperparts are chequered white while there is a white striped patch on the side of the neck.

The 3rd photo shows the bird moulting into summer plumage.

Great Northern Diver moulting into summer plumage, Orkney, Scotland, May 2003 - click for larger image The 2nd photo shows a Common Loon "snorkelling" while hunting for fish from the surface.
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