Gavia immer

Common Loons are not uncommon in our waters in winter. But they’re usually way off shore and the wind is blowing you down! And they’re not in their breeding finery like this one, in Gravesend Bay recently. Shouldn’t it be up in the north country loooooooooooning?The knobby head makes me thing of a sock puppet, or a hand shadow. The binomial Gavia immer is made up of words meaning gull/mew and diver. When I was in Scotland some years ago, our group — I was the only non-Brit — was excited about a seeing Great Northern Diver. What, I asked, was a GND? Turned out to be just another name for G. immer, the bird I first heard as a kid in Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario (and the bird on the Canadian dollar coin, known as a loonie).You can just see the bird’s paddle-like feet extending behind. Set so far back, these legs are great for diving after prey, but not much use on land.

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