Gavia immer

Range & Status

Nearctic; in Europe breeding only on Iceland. In Britain and Ireland there are 4000

estimated in winter (chiefly Ireland and west Scotland).

Regional Distribution

Cornwall: a winter visitor and passage migrant in small numbers, with peak figures January to March (averages 150 birds). Sites regularly holding more than ten birds include St. Ives Bay, Mount' s Bay, Falmouth Bay, Carrick Roads, Gerrans Bay, Veryan Bay, St. Austell Bay, Looe, Seaton and Portwrinkle. Of particular importance are gatherings of up to 40 birds in March and April about 2kms off Downderry. As a number of these birds seem to be in a flightless stage it could represent an important moult gathering over the shallows of the Sherbeterry Reef. Up to ten scattered in winter in the Isles of Scilly.

Habitat & Ecology

Sheltered rocky bays. It winters chiefly in ones and twos, being less sociable than other divers.


Inshore fishing (monofilament nets) and oil pollution.


Monitoring of winter numbers. Protected under Schedule 1 of Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and Annexe 1 of European Union Conservation of Wild Birds Directive. Listed (long list) as a globally threatened/declining species (BSGR, 1995).