Friday 21 December 2012


Divers, or loons to Americans, are a small order of birds (Gaviformes), related to the penguins and seabirds, with only five species grouped into a genus (Gavia) and a family (Gaviidae). They are distributed in the northern hemisphere and are associated with aquatic environments, mainly in the interior during the breeding season, and in the sea out of the breeding season. No species of loon breeds in the Iberian Peninsula, where their presence is scarce in winter, being closely linked to coastal waters and appearing to be very rare inside. Despite the above, three species have been observed in Extremadura.

On December 3, 2012, a Common Loon (Gavia immer) juvenile appeared at a factory in an industrial area of Almendralejo (Badajoz), apparently wounded, as the plumage was bloodstained. Jesus Sánchez Cidoncha (photo 1) and Isabel Gonzalez Alcantara were alerted and called the AMUS recovery center in Villafranca de los Barros (Badajoz), where the bird was under observation. Fortunately it didn't appear hurt and bleeding could be due to some superficial wound caused by being trapped or whilst moving. Without further ado, the day after the issue was released by AMUS (Figure 2).

It is the fourth common loon observation in Extremadura. The above dates from January 25, 2009, when Godfried Schreur (photos 3 and 4) located a juvenile while on a transect to the atlas of wintering birds. Specifically it was seen in the Charco de la Virgen in Carrión, Alburquerque (Badajoz). On the previous night there was a strong wind from the west. On the same day of observation the bird flew to the southwest, but was observed again in the same pond between 13 and 15 February (J. P. Menendez).

The remaining events are recorded in the yearbooks "Birds of Extremadura". Thus, two separate adult Common Loon were seen in Gabriel y Galán reservoir (Cáceres) in March 1991 (Javier Briz) and Orellana Reservoir, Talarrubias (Badajoz), on April 15, 2008 (I. T. Escribano, Juan Gomez Navedo, José María Gutiérrez Abad and J. S. Gutiérrez / GIC-UEX). The Arctic Loon (Gavia arctica) has two records, both in the Llanos de Cáceres: a juvenile in Petit de Abajo, Arroyo de la Luz, in January 1995 (Antonio Acha) and one on the reservoir Valdesalor on January 25, 1998 (M. Ruiz and A. Acha). Finally, the red-throated diver (Gavia stellata) has been observed only once: a juvenile at Cornalvo Reservoir (Badajoz) on April 22, 2000 (J. Matute, Goyo Para and R. Sanchez Herrero).

- Prieta, J. and S.Mayordomo 2011. Birds of Extremadura. Vol 4. 2004-2008. SEO-Cáceres. Plasencia. [Download]