The forests and lakes of Västmanland are an excellent place to get up-close and personal with two of Sweden’s most fascinating species of water bird – the Black-throated and the Red-throated Diver.
Divers (also known as “loons”) are sleek and streamlined birds which, as their name suggests, are excellent divers! Their legs, which are placed far back on the body, may make them ungainly on land, but once in the water they become wonderfully graceful and agile. They have narrow elongated nostrils, which are also an adaptation for diving. Divers feed on fish, chasing them underwater before catching them in their bills. They have become rare due to their sensitivity to marine pollutants and their vulnerability to disturbance during breeding.
The Black-throated Diver is the larger of the two, with a more horizontal bill and clearer black and white markings. The smaller Red-throated Diver is 55-67cm in length with a wingspan of around a metre. Divers breed in high latitude areas around the Arctic and also in the north-west of Scotland.
Divers have complex bathing displays which involve diving, rolling and wing shaking. They also have a highly ritualized mating behaviour and give spectacular displays of rapid dashes across the surface of the water. They are monogamous and form lasting bonds with their partner. During breeding, mating will occur on land.
The diver is perhaps best known for its unique range of calls – real sounds of the wilderness! You can listen to a variety of samples and learn more about diver calls here: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/loon/Dictionary.html
Nature Travels offers a wonderful combination of birdwatching and comfort on our Black- and Red-throated Diver Weekend. In the company of a knowledgeable local bird guide, you will watch black and red throated divers in lake and marshland environments. After a day deep in the wilds of Bergslagen you return to an 18th century country manor where a wood-heated sauna awaits you along with a home-cooked dinner, during which you can reflect on and share stories of your experiences of the sights, sounds, smells and impressions of the day. When you finally tire of exchanging stories, retire to your unique mini-suite in the grounds of the manor!
While this experience is a wonderful opportunity for dedicated birders to indulge their passion, the haunting call of a diver echoing across the lake in the mists of early morning is guaranteed to make the hairs on your neck stand up even if don’t know your chiff-chaffs from your chaffinches. Prepare to enter the maddeningly addictive and utterly magical world of birdwatching on our Black and Red Throated Diver Weekend package!
The Nature Travels Team