Life in Newburgh on Ythan

By Talpa

A gaggle of Eiders

The Ythan estuary is home to one of Britain's largest mainland breeding colonies of eider ducks (Somateria mollissima).
When it comes to being really, really bad fathers, eider drakes are in the premier league. They spend much of the Autumn and Spring strutting their stuff in the hope of getting paired up with a comely female. Once they succeed they are the perfect partner, attentive and protective of their loved one. However, once the duck has laid her eggs and is sitting on the nest this all changes. The male casually abandons his mate to her fate. She must now sit on her clutch of up to 8 eggs, unfed and starving, for the next 28 days, and then care for her young when they hatch. Her partner has no interest whatsoever in any paternal duties.
The male then heads off, with his pals, in search of further sexual opportunities. Given that most females will now be on their nests, the few that remain on the river are subject to continual harassment, and worse, by the marauding gangs of males.
Despite their good looks male eiders are pretty bad eggs!

The males tell me that they are best viewed large in order to fully appreciate their good looks.

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