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Birds > Gaviiformes > Red-throated Loon Gavia stellata

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The photos of the Red-throated Loon were taken during a short break between the stays in the first and the second shelter, where I photographed grouses and capercaillies. It was a species that I desired to have in my galery, but in Poland it was very difficult to spot, even more to photograph. I took a photo of the Loon in the winter of 2013 in Jurata, but the sun was setting, the bird was sleeping on water, and the distance was too big. The pictures I took then did not make it possible to identify the species, so I did not introduce them into my galery.However, the situation is different in Sweden, where the Loons are more often found and where they tend to breed. In the area where we were taking photos, there  were many lakes, lakelets and ponds. In the smallest ponds, you could find the Goldeneyes. In the mid-sized reservoirs, you could come across the Loons. When I was approaching the pond slowly, the Loon started swimming away resolutely. The photos were not taken from the hide. I wish they had been, because the quality would have been much higher, but that did not happen thanks to the organizer of the workshop. The ponds were so small that the Loons, which were swimming slowly, always remain within the range of our sight. Still, they were distanced by several dozen meters from us. The Red-throated Loons feed on fish. They weigh up to 2.5 kilograms and their wingspan is up to 1.2 meter. Their plumage covering their head is awesome and I hope that despite all the difficulties regarding the surroundings and the absence of hides it was possible to highlight the peculiar charm of this bird.
Last minute news – 06/2014 Iceland
I took my first photos of this bird in Sweden. My encounters with it in Iceland were so exciting that I must write them down and present to you, as they seem nearly impossible, unless you photograph in Iceland. Communing with nature there has a completely  different taste. But lets’ get back to the issue…
We rode along a little bridge from which we could see some harlequin ducks sitting to the left, and red-throated loons to the right. As the harlequin duck is a new species for me I start my photography session with them, approaching them slowly. After a short shooting session with harlequin ducks I cross a road and try to do the same with red-throated loons. I stoop down and very shyly and slowly approach the red-throated loons. They are a bit uneasy, but they don’t fly away. The place is picturesque, as reflections on the water of this meandering middle-sized river give the water a blue or green tint by turns. The process of approaching the loons took me several dozen minutes. I sat down opposite them and photographed them as they swam a few dozen meters to the left and to the right. While they were diving I was quickly following them in order to sit still again near them when they come to the surface. They looked surprised but they didn’t fly away. What is more on several occasions they swam so close to me that they didn’t fit in the frame. Amazing impressions from communing with such birds! I took many photos of them and decided that it was time to record their sounds. Here, to my surprise, I discovered that I had left the microphone in the car. Very slowly, not to upset or startle the birds, I walked in the direction where my car was located. I assembled the recording kit and started to approach the loons again. It’s amazing how the two loons watched me closely and didn’t fly away but swam in the vicinity. I begin to record. Unfortunately they are not as dynamic in sound-making as great northern loons. I’m sitting on the river bank, two red-throated loons in front of me at a distance of a dozen or so meters, and we’re observing one another. For a moment I thought  that it couldn’t be true. In Poland, without a hide or camouflage you can’t perform suuuuuuch pictures being so close to the photographed wild bird. But this is the scarcely inhabited Iceland, where wild nature has a little more tolerance for humans. We are sitting opposite one another, but it’s me who is trying to record their sounds. Several dozen minutes pass and I finally manage to record a few „sighs” of the loons. Luckily, as I would have had difficulty to remain frozen in such a stooped posture much longer. But it’s not the end of my story of amazing encounters with this incredible bird in Iceland. My second encounter was, I think, even more exciting. A little pond, an asphalt road 10 meters away from it, we stop the car and watch a couple of red-throated loons. One of them is sitting on a nest, the other is swimming in the vicinity. I walk to the bank very slowly, lie down opposite the nest and photograph the red-throated loon preening itself on the water. After some thirty minutes I witnessed a changing of the guard over the birds’ nest. The bird that had previously brooded upon eggs dived into the water and came to the surface near its partner. They performed a spectacular synchronized swimming along a track in a form of the letter „S”, and after that they swam away from each other for a certain distance and again synchronically spread their wings. Unfortunately the birds were so close to me that within a single frame I was only able to capture one of them and a half of the other. It was beautiful and extraordinary, dozens of pictures were taken and I thought that it’s hard to expect more. And here, to my surprise, the bird which had been preening previously flew up right in front of my eyes. It took off a dozen or so meters away from me, so I didn’t have problems with taking a series of photos capturing the take-off of this bird. In the encounters described above so many photos were taken that it was difficult to decide about the final shape of this gallery.  See for yourselves my close encounters with red-throated loons in Iceland…
Last minute news 06/2018- Iceland
Last minute news - 07/2018 - Spitsbergen

Red-throated loons are the birds I am never fed up with. They are so fascinating that I could watch and take their photos any time and everywhere. This time, I managed to take a few shots, so different from those taken in Iceland. I guess they are not rare birds in Svalbard, since I could observe 7 individuals in one place. The female hatching egg noticed a skua in the sky so immediately gave warning signals to the male swimming nearby. This watching took a few hours and ended with taking pictures that diversified my current gallery of this species.

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