I am now almost ashamed to admit that, as a child, I had an eiderdown on my bed, to keep me warm during the frosty Waikato nights. If you don’t recognise the name, an eiderdown is a quilt stuffed full with the breast down of the female Eider duck. It was certainly very warm and cosy but these days I couldn’t even contemplate owning such a thing, especially after enjoying my first Eider encounters recently in Northumberland.
I saw my first while enjoying a fish-and-chip-supper-by-sunset by the harbour in Seahouses, where Eiders were just metres away. That’s also where I first heard their fantastic call – so that’s where comedian Frankie Howerd got his inspiration! (Here’s a link to a youtube video – not mine – if you don’t know what I mean.)
We also encountered Eiders during our trip to the Farne Islands, some so perfectly camouflaged / hidden amongst the vegetation that the local rangers had marked their nesting sites with sticks.
As usual in the bird world, the male birds are the most colourful, and look very handsome in their black, white (with a pink blush) and light green, but, personally, I prefer the delicate hues and intricate patterning of the females. They are both very elegant birds.