Eiders with and without sails

After reading several articles on the possible occurence of Northern Eiders in Britain, i thought i’d have a crack at finding one. However, things aren’t always as easy as you’d hope… The bird above has a nice mustard tone to the bill, but no sails on the back at all. Taken in Montrose harbour in Jan 2012.

 While this bird has nice mustard tones to the lobes (or frontal process – can someone explain to me which is which please!?) and has distinct sails on its back, almost akin to small fairy wings, is this enough to claim it as a borealis? Especially considering that it was very close to the first bird in Montrose harbour. Wish it had of been on Shetland…

The bill on this drake was just ridiculous, almost bright orange. Unfortunately my exposure was out again, so i’ve had to alter the levels a bit which may make the bill appear more orange than it really was, but trust me, it wasn’t far off this! Again, a complete abscence of sails. Montrose, Jan 2012.

This pair were off Ruddon’s Point in Oct 2011 and were my introduction to the confusing world of sailed Eiders. The drake has a great set of sails, but has a very normal colouration to the bill, although individual variation has seen fit to gift this bird a slightly “Roman” nose. I spent ages watching and videoing this bird, only to discover that several of its colleagues on the other side of the point were identical, with decent sails and normal bill colouration.

Another view of the Ruddon’s Point bird.

Winger fest part 1

Thought i’d kick this blog off with a quick run down of the past few weeks. After spending a very enjoyable (from what i remember of it!) New Years in Glasgow with Dan Brown and the rest of the punkbirders, i looked at the weather charts and saw the incoming beast of a storm from the North Atlantic. Heading north, it slowly became apparent that a winger fest of grand proportions was in progress. A Glauc in Wick harbour was followed by an Iceland at Duncansby Head, then an adult  Iceland in Thurso and two 1st yrs in Castletown cemented my thoughts about going further west…

I arrived at Kinlochbervie with about an hour of light left, and of the 20 or so gulls present in the small harbour, about half sported white wings! Pick of the bunch was a nice Kumlien’s that refused to land, but luckily flew just close enough on a few occasions to get papped and blogged.

 3rd winter Kumlien’s. Note even on this poor shot the grey outer webs to the outer 5 primaries contrast with the whiter inner 5 primaries. The tail is also contrastingly dark. Belter!