Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Great Northern Diver
Great Northern Diver
(Great Northern Loon, Big Loon, Common Loon, Black-billed Loon, Call-up-a-storm, Imber Diver, Ring-necked Loon, Walloon, Ember-goose, Greenhead, Guinea Duck)
Photograph © David McRonald
Lochan Beag by Harris Castle - Isle of Harris - Western Isles - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
April 28th 2011
"I saw a Sea Eagle (my 3rd sighting) when I was ascending in Harris on 29th April and then saw another eagle soaring later on (see attached picture). Having looked at silhouette pictures on-line I think it may have been a Sea Eagle and would very much value your opinion.
I also saw a diver in the sea just off the outlet of Lochan Beag by Harris Castle on 28th April and thought it may be a juvenile Great Northern Diver but again would appreciate your opinion.
This was my second visit to the Western Isles and I just can't wait to go back again!"
The diver is a Great northern Diver
The eagle is a White-tailed Eagle. possibly a 2nd or 3rd year bird. Certainly not a juv or an adult if I was being ultra-cautious!
Our Great Northern Diver photographs
- Great Northern Diver
- Gavia immer
- UK: Scarce breeder, winter visitor. Arrives UK August - leave to breed April - May
- UK: 3000 in winter BTO
- WI: Fairly common passage (occurs in small numbers but of international importance) and winter visitor (occurs in small numbers, but of national importance)
- Breeds: Greenland, Iceland, Alaska, North Scotland, North America, Canada
- Winters: North Europe, UK, North America
- Habitat: Lakes, ponds & rivers
- Usually solitary, large: average 32 inches long, wingspan of 54 inches, weighs 9lbs (81cm : 136cm : 4.1kg) Breeding adults: black head, white below, checked black & white mantle, sexes similar
Non-breeding brownish, white chin, foreneck, bill is grey- whitish held horizontal
- Diet: Mostly fish, crustaceans amphibians. Fishes underwater to 200 feet (60m) immer means submerge
- Similar birds: Black-throated Diver, Red-throated Diver, White-billed Diver
One of the names of the bird is "call-up-a-storm" the call was supposed to presage rain!
Great Northern Diver records in the Western Isles
Fairly common passage (occurs in small numbers but of international importance) and winter visitor (occurs in small numbers, but of national importance)
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)
In April and May numbers of Great Northern Diver gather together ready to begin their return trip to Greenland and Iceland. Many will be in breeding plumage. The usual gathering sites are Broadbay (near Stornoway) and the Sounds of Harris, Taransay and Barra. Single birds may be seen offshore during most months.
Small numbers of returning failed breeders and immatures may be seen offshore here as early as August, but the birds usually leave their Northern breeding sites in September and October arriving here in October and November.
On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the bird is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.
(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)
Other local bird photographs
Sources of information for the bird sightings section