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Red-throated Diver in winter plumage (Photo: Saulius Karalius, Fund of Lithuanian Sea museum)
One of the most talented fishers, which can be seen in the Baltic Sea during migration, would be the divers, also called loons.
Red-throated Diver is rare and worldwide protected waterbird. This diver can be distinguished by its up-tilted bill that imparts to the bird a somewhat "conceited" look. It has a red throat patch during the breeding season, but in winter time the neck becomes white and the plumage of the whole body is dark gray with white spots. It’s the smallest of all divers though it’s almost as big as a domestic goose.
Its main food source is fish. As it is noticeable from their name, these birds are excellent at diving and pursuing small to medium size fish. Divers can spend on average 1 minute submersed and can reach to several tens of metres deep. The shape of their body somewhat resembles a torpedo with webbed feet set almost at the very end of it. This gives a powerful push underwater, but on the land they are very clumsy.
For this reason, divers’ nests are usually just few metres from the shore. Most divers are not really able to launch from the land, the only way for them to take off is to run some ten metres on the water surface. Sometimes divers mix rivers with wet, grey highways and land there. Unable to launch from the land, they get stuck. Bringing them to water can easily save such birds.
When migrating, they usually form rather small flocks of a few dozens of individuals.
During the breeding season the Black-throated and Red-throated Divers’ plumages differ considerably (hence their names), but during wintertime it is difficult to distinguish them.
Red-throated Diver (Gavia stellata)