Tag Archives: Common Loon

Breeding in the Highlands

Himbrimi – Great Northern Diver/ Common Loon – Gavia immer

The Great Northern Diver is the king of Icelandic mountain lakes and Veiðivötn in the South Highlands is a perfect place for breeding. The big clear mountain lakes of Veiðivötn provide all it needs. Trout is the Great Northern Diver’s favourite food and the lakes are full of fish.

There is just one pair on each lake and the lake is their territory – no visitors allowed in breeding time. They make their nests on islands or islets, often in moss or grass, and the eggs are two.

Iceland is the only breeding place of the Great Northern Diver in Europe. In winter they stay on the sea mostly around Iceland and they lose their distinctive black and white pattern and become grey.

King of the highland lakes

Himbrimi – Great Northern Diver / Common Loon – Gavia immer

The Great Northern Diver is without doubt king of its habitat in the interior. Most highland lakes with fish sport at least one couple who nest there every summer and raise their young ones. Usually the chicks are two and the parents take good care of them. It is not unusual to see the chick being transported on the back of the parents.

Looking after the eggs

In Veiðivötn, in English Fishing Lakes, in the southern interior the Great Northern Diver stands out. Pairs are on most of the lakes and non-breeding birds can sometimes be seen in groups.


Not many things are more captivating than the Diver’s wails which can be heard all over the place in  the stillness of the twilight.


The call of the Diver (Loon)

Himbrimi - Great Northern Diver - Gavia immer
Himbrimi – Great Northern Diver – Gavia immer

The wail of the Great Northern Diver (Common Loon) is very familiar and is used unsparingly in the film industry. It is one of the top ten sound effects we all recognise from movies.  Hear it here. Movies from all over the world seem to use its call. To the ear of the birder it sounds very silly, especially when it is used in places far from the Great Northern Diver’s habitat.