Eiders on the March

Monday 12th March comments: Despite the cold windy start to the new season (which potentially has delayed the breeding season for several species), there is also an urge to get going no matter what. In recent days we’ve noticed an increase of Eider duck numbers around the Island including birds coming up onto the loch and that means just one thing; it’s nesting season!

Drake Eiders can be seen and heard displaying (they’ve been displaying for a few months now), trying to capture the attention of the females, whilst the females are now looking to breed and nest. Over 1,100 females nest on the Isle of May making it one of the most important Eider colonies in the U.K. We expect our first female to start nesting soon as she’ll wander up to a suitable nest spot, and will start laying eggs (Eiders will nest all over the island from the thick vegetation of the tops, to the pathways and around the buildings dotted across the Isle). Interestingly female Eiders don’t start incubating the full clutch of eggs until they are all laid, as this ensures that all the eggs will hatch on the same day to allow her to take the chicks to sea within 24 hours.

However despite the first female preparing to nest, there are many more following her and it is often a protracted season as females will still be arriving and nesting in mid-May, at the same time as these early nesters which will have chicks! So if you visit, watch your feet because some very special ladies are coming to town.  

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