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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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