These birds can be seen gliding along the water surface and regularly diving down underwater. They are very streamlined which makes it easy for them to plunge down into the depths. They function much better on the water and really struggle when it comes to getting around on land.
These birds love to dive under the water in search of food, so they can easily vanish out of sight. You might spot one and then a second later they have disappeared, only to appear in a different spot a few minutes later. They are quite large diving birds with a sharp bill.
Their numbers have been suffering due to marine pollution, making them more vulnerable. They can be seen in sheltered coasts away from waves and harsh seas in the winter and in the Scottish Highland lochs in the summer. You might also spot them in inland reservoirs if you are lucky.
These birds move to the coast in the winter to feed. They survive on a diet of mainly fish. During the winter they are dark black in colour and have a white patch on their flank. Their colouring changes slighting in the summer, they have black and white chequered back and black and grey feathers.
They are rare breeders and can be disturbed very easily, so try not to get to close if you spot one. Observe them from a distance using a telescope. They lay their nests on land which leaves them susceptible to flooding.
They generally weigh about 1. 6 kilograms and reach between 53 and 58 centimetres in height. The best time to try and spot one is in the winter, particularly in January and December when they inhabit sheltered coastal waters.