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 Common Eider - Fact File

Common Eider - Female

Common Eider - Male

Somateria mollissima
Breeds and is resident on suitable coasts of Scotland and the north of Ireland. Winters also on the east and south coasts of England.
Coasts, especially sheltered bays and estuaries. Very rare inland.

Large bulky duck. Long sloping bill gives triangular head shape. Male has bold black and white plumage with greenish nape and pinkish breast. Female rich browns.

61cm (24")

Common Eider

Rather mysteriously during a spell of calm over-cast weather at the beginning of November 1993 a remarkable inland arrival of eiders was reported both locally and at reservoirs in the Midlands. Normally no duck is more maritime than the eider.

Just a single individual inland is exceptional. I first became familiar with fleets of eiders cruising in any weather off the coast of Northumberland. The birds would lift on the waves, ride through the curling crests and dip into the troughs without even raising sleepy heads from their breasts.

The 'Birds of Great Yarmouth' published by Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists Society described the eider as an exceptional visitor to Breydon with only four observations in 100 years. Yet here was a raft of 26 on the estuary. The majority did not linger but a party of five, including a splendid drake complete with pastel green nape and rosy-tinged breast, patrolled the main channel for days.

At times these eiders searched for crabs at no distance from the road bridge. Despite fierce ebb tides causing the river to swirl and eddy they maintained station. Elsewhere in Norfolk, two eiders visited the flooded pits at Colney, together with singles on Rockland Broad and Wells boating lake.


.By Michael J Seago

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Copyright Information

  • Article: © Eastern Counties Newspapers Group
  • Illustrations by Dave Nurney from - The Pocket Guide to the Birds Of Britain and North-West Europe By Chris Kightley and Steve Madge © Pica Press and reproduced with kind permission.
  • Other material: © Birds Of Britain