Common Eider (Somateria mollissima)
(aka Eider)
Male Eider, Aberlady, East Lothian, Scotland, September 2002 - click for larger image The Common Eider is a sea duck distributed round the coasts of northern and western Europe, Greenland, North America and north-east Asia.

It feeds mainly on molluscs and crustaceans which it dives for up to a depth of about 3 metres. Consequently it is to be found close to rocky shores most of the time.

Male Eider, Orkney, Scotland, May 2003 - click for larger image The male has a distinctive black and white plumage for most of the year while the breast has a pinkish tinge and the rear of the neck has a pistachio coloured patch. The triangular bill is noticeable even at a distance while close-up you can see the large "nail" at the tip.

They are usually seen in medium to large flocks. The 2nd photo was taken in late May in Orkney when the males are gathering together to start moulting.

Male Eider moving out of eclipse plumage, Musselburgh, East Lothian, Scotland, October 2002 - click for larger image The 3rd photo shows a male Eider in October moving between its eclipse plumage and its breeding plumage.

The female is an altogether duller beast but note the white borders to the dark speculum where it is seen with some downy young in photo 4.

Female Eider with chicks, Musselburgh, East Lothian, Scotland, June 2002 - click for larger image The females group together to form crèches with young of several females being looked after by the "aunts" as can be seen in photo 5.

Photo 6 shows juveniles in late September flying with females (the ones showing white bordering the speculum)

Female Eider with chicks, Seahouses, Northumberland, England, June 2003 - click for larger image
Female Eider with juveniles, Aberlady, East Lothian, Scotland, September 2002 - click for larger image
Male and Female Eiders hunting shellfish, Unst, Shetland, Scotland, May 2004 - click for larger image
Eclipse male Eider, Aberlady Bay, Scotland, June 2005 - click for larger image
Male and Female Eiders Handa Island, Scotland, May 2005 - click for larger image
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