Country Corner

Eider duck
Eider duck

Here is a picture full of nostalgia for me. In my boyhood and youth I was a stravaiging raker who wandered wherever the muse took me in search of wildlife.

Incubating Eider ducks on their nests of genuine eiderdown were a favourite find.

On or near to the coast these sea ducks came ashore to breed, it seems much more commonly than they do now.

Thankfully, the other day on the Isle of May I found eider nests at every turn.

How good it was to see them doing so well.

Because female eiders rely on absolute stillness to avoid the attention of nest predators such as gulls, it is easy to think they are tame.

On the contrary, they are wild birds with all the fear and stress that surviving in the wild induces, and indeed requires.

Never be tempted to touch incubating birds as you could force them to flee, leaving their eggs or young to chill or be eaten by predators

On another subject, you will have noticed this nest is surrounded by wildflowers.

In fact most nests on the flat plateaus of the May are engulfed in flowers, principally this one, Sea Campion.

Thrift and Common Sorrel also abound, adding pink and red to the white of Sea Campion across the islandscape.

I don’t think I have ever seen a landscape so rich in wildflowers.

In fact, as an all round naturalist, I found the abundance of botany just as rewarding as the abundance of seabirds.

The seabird nesting season is just getting under way.

You still have plenty of time to visit the May, Bass or the Farnes.