Friday 12th May comments: Another exciting milestone was reached yesterday on the island as we discovered our first Eider ducklings with their mother on the loch. These are the first ducklings to hatch and over the forthcoming weeks, we’ll be seeing plenty more!
Female Eiders nest all over the Isle of May (including along the paths and roads) and generally have a clutch of 4-6 eggs. The main nesting period is from late April-May and the first eggs were discovered on 17th April this season. The females will sit tight on the nest for the entire duration of the incubation period (which is approximately 26 days) and during this period, females can lose 40% of their body weight and as a result have to be in good condition before nesting.
Within 24 hours of the chicks hatching, the females will take the young to sea (or in some cases the island loch). Birds will form large crèches as young and adults from a multitude of nests will just mix as young grow bigger and stronger as they head towards independence. However eventually all adults and young will move off towards the nearby coastlines where chicks will be raised. Predation by large gulls is one of the main threats to the youngsters.