Sunday, 15 June 2014

Wknd 14-15 June

Eider duckling at Port Seton, Wrecked Craigs, my first ever (small one) there though I don't look that often in summer. Aberlady would be the nearest possible source, but breeding is now erratic there. Inchkeith is another possible source, since ducklings are often seen at Musselburgh but have not nested there for many years it is believed that those birds have crossed the sea - approx distances for closest crossings are 3 miles to Leith shore, but 6 miles direct to Musselburgh and 8 miles to Port Seton - quite a journey for a duckling! Presumably the sole survivor from a larger brood and looking pretty vulnerable with large gulls all around, protective mum saw off a second female Eider which was showing an interest, though "aunties" often have a role in caring for creches in this species.

Otherwise - just 137 Eider there, 7 females; sea duck well down overall, a real summer lull with just 35 Common Scoter, 14 Velvet Scoter and 10 Red-breasted Merganser in Gosford Bay/shore, a mere 22 Barwits along the sands.

This might be the answer - 5 Eider ducklings at Kilspindie, Aberlady, Wednesday evening, so looks like they have indeed had success there this year, though no ducklings apparent (yet?) amongst 85+ Shelduck on the salt marsh. I've also been sent a photo of juvenile Woodcocks hiding on the edge of the salt marsh, but from where?! [Postscript - ID error, they were Lapwing!]

Checking historical records it seems that 80-85 Eider nests were typical early 1980's with up to 600 pairs at Aberlady, but significant declines since with many years of poor breeding producing just a handful of young and evidence of failures, e.g. 14 young but 47 eggs predated in 1996, though some years bucking the trend with still 57 young in 1997 and 40 young as recently as 2006. I expect crow predation is a big factor as their numbers can be very high in the area.

Thursday - just two Eider ducklings diving round towards Greencraigs bay; later at dusk hunger calls of a juvenile Tawny Owl in Gosford Estate wood audible from the A198.

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