Black-throated diver Gavia arctica, adult in breeding plumage taking off from water, Forsinard Flows RSPB reserve, Sutherland, Scotland


This is a small family of large water birds, with three species regularly seen in the UK (two of which breed) plus one rare vagrant from northern Asia (the white-billed diver). There is another similar species (the Pacific loon) in North America.

Divers all have long, slender bodies, moderately long necks and dagger-shaped bills, quite long but narrow wings and small legs (with long, lobed toes) set far back on the body. They are expert swimmers and divers but unable to stand or walk on land. All are migratory, breeding on freshwater lakes and pools but moving to the sea coast in winter.