Loons & Grebes

Common Loon/Great Northern Diver (Gavia immer)

Winter-plumaged Common Loon/Great Northern Diver (Gavia immer). Photo: Seán Ronayne

Common Loon is a common winter visitor to Irish shores from the north – mainly Canada and Greenland. Because of the pelagic nature of the species, and that fact that it doesn’t breed, this species isn’t usually heard in Ireland.

However it is possible to hear – particularly in spring, when birds are hormonal and preparing to return north for the breeding season. Occasionally contact calls can also be heard. These can only be described as an eerie howling-sound, which is, believe it or not, probably familiar to most people, as it is frequently used in TV, as an atmospheric background sound to denote a place of wilderness. We have been lucky enough to record this call once, however, the quality demands improvement: