Ian’s Bird of the Week – Pacific Loon

Pacific Loon(Gavia pacifica) by Ian

Pacific Loon(Gavia pacifica) by Ian

This week’s choice was based on (a) the fact that I promised an American this week and (b) because I ended up travelling a day late on Air Pacific via Fiji as my V Australia flight was cancelled, and wanted to make a horrible pun along the lines of loons and choice of airline and the ‘meals’ that they provide. I’ve decided to spare you that, as we all know that airline food is terrible and I shouldn’t be surprised when it plumbs new depths.

Anyway, it’s lovely to be back in California and I spent some time this morning trying to photograph the Anna’s Hummingbirds in the backyard. They need to be photographed at exactly the right angle to the light to show the magenta on the head. I haven’t yet done that to my satisfaction, so I’ll keep that for another day.

Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica) by Ian - from his Website

Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica) by Ian - from his Website

This Pacific Loon I photographed in Barrow in northern Alaska on my last trip 2 years ago when it was swimming among the ice-floes along the beach where there was some open water in the otherwise frozen sea. ‘Loons’ to Americans and ‘Divers’ to the British form a small northern hemisphere family of 5 species – http://www.birdway.com.au/gaviidae/index.htm – all of which are mostly marine fish-eaters except when breeding when they nest beside freshwater lakes, often far inland. They are brilliantly adapted to an aquatic life and prefer to dive than fly. How sensible.

The Pacific Loon is very closely related and similar in appearance to the Arctic Loon/Diver of Eurasia. The bird in the photo is in breeding plumage (it was mid-summer’s day) and all the loons/divers then have strikingly patterns, while the non-breeding plumage is a rather drab grey and white. They’re big birds, with the Pacific having a length of 64cm/25in.

The enforced leisure of my journey gave me ample opportunities to work on the website, and I have made some additions http://www.birdway.com.au/#updates and finally updated Ian’s Picks:

Black Swan
Andean Cock-of-the-Rock
White-throated Dipper
Northern Brown Bandicoot

Australian Wildlife - Ian

Australian Wildlife

Earlier this year, I provided many photos for a new Brandt guide to Australian Wildlife by Stella Martin and received my copy shortly before I left Australia. I think Stella has done a wonderful job in producing a comprehensive but concise introduction across a broad field which is eminently readable. Being a paperback it’s ideal for the visitor to Australia and great value. Amazon now have it in stock: Australian Wildlife and it is becoming available in book stores. I’ve attached a copy of the cover to whet your appetite!

Best wishes,

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: +61-7 4751 3115
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://birdway.com.au

Lee’s Addition:

Since Ian is traveling, I went to his website and got the second photo of the Pacific Loon swimming towards the camera. I am sure Ian won’t mind. As Ian said, the Loons are in the Gaviidae Family which is in the Gaviiformes Order. In other words, they are the only family in that Order.

Their sounds are sad and remind me of wailing.

Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. (Revelation 1:7-8 KJV)


Ian’s Gaviidae Family,

Birds of the World – Gaviidae Family and the Gaviiformes Order.


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