Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Life Skills

All along the Northumbrian coast there are eider ducklings learning the rudiments of survival. From the moment they hatch they are completely at home in the sea, bobbing in the surf as buoyant as corks and using those over-sized feet to dive below the waves and explore the seabed.
At this stage they're too small to hunt larger shore crabs that are adults' favourite food items, so explore every nook and cranny for something edible that.....

..... might be dislodged by the incoming tide, all under the watchful gaze ....

... of an anxious adult. Once chuckling alarm call from her and they all head for the comparative safety of the sea....

Photographed at Craster on the Northumberland coast, at the weekend.


  1. Great shots and interesting commentary - we southerners are suckers for Eiders.

  2. Hi Steve, I know what you mean - I came up here from Sussex, via the Midlands, 35 years ago and eiders were one of the first NE highlights that I encountered. If you go to Seahouses harbour in spring, armed with a bag of chips, the drake eiders will take them out of your hand - and their calls sound like a mixture of surprise and appreciation at your generosity. Not sure how well they do on a junk food diet like that, but I guess they detox on crabs for the rest of the year..

  3. The ducklings also readily become imprinted on humans as a friend of mine found out when he took in an injured one. He tried to release it, near a group of adults and young like this, but it just kept turning round and coming back to him. In the end, in desperation he took to bowling it as far and as hard as he could towards the creche group and then running away like mad! The picture of it tumbling through the air, webbed feet akimbo is an enduring one. Eider loved to have seen that.

  4. Hi Nyctalus, I guess I was lucky this lot didn't follow me home ..... there are creches of eider ducklings in Seahouses harbour at the moment and I suppose they just attach themselves to any convenient adult duck that swims by....


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