Tuesday 12th July comments: The majority of our Eider population has now left the island, they are one of the first of our breeding birds to lay, incubate and then take their ducklings across the sea to the coast of the mainland. We do still have a few stragglers, with a few females that are still sat on eggs and a couple of females that are raising their young on the loch.
It has been a good year on the May for the UK’s fastest flying duck. From the population count that was conducted over a two week period at the end of May; we have calculated that there were 1,128 Eider nests this year. This is a 16% increase from the last count in 2014 and is almost reaching the peak count of 1,200 back in 1999.
The females are incredibly devoted, only rarely leaving the nest to have a drink during the incubation period. They will also often form large crèches of ducklings in order to maximise the protection their young receive. They work together with other females which may have failed their breeding attempt for the year or young birds that aren’t yet breeding. The ducklings can be easy targets for Gulls, so having safety in numbers is a crucial strategy for survival on the May.
As with all our seabirds, we hope this good year will help boost the population on the island of this subtly beautiful seaduck.