Sunday, 1 December 2013

25th November: Seaduck Spotting

This is a great time of year to watch sea ducks, members of the Merginae family, off the coast of Northumberland, and Lindisfarne NNR is a fantastic place to do this. Some species to look for:

Drake Goldeneye (Natural England/Allan Drewitt)
These handsome ducks look fantastic in the winter light, their dark emerald head providing striking contrast with the bright yellow eyes. Look out for the less colourful but equally beautiful female, with a chestnut brown head and the same bright yellow eye.

Common Scoter
Large rafts of black ducks, Common Scoter, can be seen from the North Shore of Holy Island, and from the adjacent coast at Cheswick. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you may spot a Velvet Scoter in their midst, so rafts of these birds are definitely worth a look.

Drake Eider - these stunning birds are always a delight to see. 
Groups of Eider are a familiar sight around the Reserve, and owe their status around Northumberland to St Cuthbert who gave them special protection - this is how they became known as 'Cuddy's Ducks'. The female is dark brown with the same distinctive sloping bill and stocky shape.

Two male and one female Red-breasted Merganser

Red-breasted Merganser
This species, belonging to the sawbill family, is less common but may still be spotted. Their shape is similar to a goosander but with the distinctive red eye and shaggy crest on the back of the head.

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