Saturday, 3 March 2012

Harlequins and Northern Eiders in Iceland

The above two shots are of British Eiders in Britain with their greenish bills and no evidence of sails.

Northern Eiders in Iceland. The males have prominent yellowy bills and obvious sails on their backs. Most of the females were rufous with some also showing a hint of a sail on their back. A few females were paler and didn't show any hint of sails. I thought these could be either a different race or a different age.

Look at the sail on the female on the left. Worth checking out in UK birds.

The male on the right had a bright yellowish bill with no sails, like the Llandudno bird. I think that bird was probably a British x Northern Eider in retrospect like this bird. In Iceland most male eiders appeared to be Borealis with a few British type birds. It only makes sence that some genetic cross-over will occur.

A hint of a sail on this rufous female.

A paler headed less rufous female. Are these a different race or just a different age.?

A rufous female with only a slight hint of a sail

....and a few nice Harlequins to finish with.


  1. Another interesting post Steve. I was talking to Martin Garner about the 'Conwy Eider' yesterday and he was of the same opinion- a 'british' Eider with northern genes. He said that True 'borealis' Is still extremely rare in Britain, with only 13 records. However, these birds with northern gene influence (as in the Conwy bird) are becoming more frequent. It will be interesting if this bird turns up again this March/ April.

  2. Great pictures Steve, saw loads of Eiders 30+ at Penmon yesterday inc 2 males vclose to the shore I must admit didnt think to look for sails, next time!

  3. Be nice if one of those male harlequins turned up with the Conwy eider!

  4. Those Harles are superb- I want to go n' see them!