Thursday 7 April 2011

You say Eider, I say Eider

These Eider ducks really are amazing. We sat, eating our breakfast, watching them eating theirs: The male with his sharply-contrasting black and white plumage and distinctive green band at the back of his neck; the female with muted brown/black plumage but, looking more closely, she seems to have narrow bands of white on her wings. Every couple of minutes or so one or both dived beneath the surface and emerged with a shore crab in its beak. They grabbed their respective crabs by each leg in turn and shook until the leg came off. Once all the offending limbs were removed they swallowed the bodies, complete with shell, whole in one gulp. Well, I say "in one gulp" but there was an obvious lump in the Eider's throat for some time after that almighty gulp.

It was difficult to tear ourselves away from the breakfast table this morning. I'm still not much of a twitcher but there is something very relaxing about sitting in a comfortable place watching ducks on a calm and sun-dappled sea, through binoculars. Even when those ducks are busy at the business of tearing innocent crustaceans limb from limb and eating them alive.

It is lovely to see some sunshine today. The weather for the past week has been, frankly, hellish: Nimbostratus cloud incessantly dumping its unwelcome bounty with callous abandon. We did, however, make it down onto Gastrobeach at the weekend. My wife managed to get this nice shot of the male Eider with two females, although he seems to have managed to lose one of them over the last few days.

P.S. Saturday (9th April) will mark one year since I started this blog. I'm glad I did. It has made me pay more attention to my surroundings.

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