Thursday, 16 May 2013

Northern-type Eider, North Uist

I ventured north recently for our friend's wedding near Inverness.  We decided to make the most of the long Bank Holiday weekend and took a trip west across Skye and onto North Uist.  It was at the back of my mind to keep an eye out for 'Northern' (borealis) Eiders but I was surprised to find one such candidate in virtually the first group I checked (in a small bay just north of Balranald RSPB).

The features that immediately stood out were the small white 'sails', a sure sign of Northern genes.  These appeared to be darker-tipped on their undersides (presumably indicative of a sub-adult bird) and were more prominently raised when the bird was chasing the nearby females around.  The bill was orangey-green (more orange towards the base), not quite the 'classic' borealis bright orange-yellow (you might recall an Eider with a bright orange bill that appeared at Rhos around this time of year for a couple of years running, but it never showed any sails).  I also noticed that the green patches on the nape were paler than on the other drake Common Eiders (not sure if this is a recorded feature of Borealis or not?).  The lateral crown stripe was brown (not white) and I assume that this also points to the bird being sub-adult.  It was displaying with the other Common Eiders (although they seemed to take quite a bit of offence to it!) and it appeared to be slightly larger/bulkier in comparison to the other drakes.

I hope the photos are of interest - with a resident group of Eiders in our area it's well worth keeping an eye open for these types turning up amongst them in the future.

Cheers and good birding!


No comments:

Post a Comment