British wildlife recordings

Somateria mollissima : Eider - Anatidae

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  • Type

    sound

  • Duration

    00:01:29

  • Shelf mark

    W1CDR0001405 BD2

  • Subjects

    Birds

  • Recording date

    1960s

  • Recording locations

    OS Grid Reference(300500,820500)

  • Recordist

    Shove, Lawrence

  • Species

    Eider, Somateria mollissima

  • Description

    The call of an Eider. (location of recording unspecified). The Eider is Britain's heaviest, fastest and 'softest' duck. The name Eider refers to the Icelandic term given to the quality of the duck's down, which is prized for its softness. The demand for these feathers has resulted in the bird facing heavy persecution in the past although it can now be regularly seen on coasts foraging for its favourite food of shellfish, especially mussels. The male's plumage is a bold design of white, green and black, making it unmistakeable. The female possesses her own beautifully mottled brown plumage, which acts as an effective disguise against predators during the nesting period. For increased security Eiders tend to nest among colonies of gulls and terns, benefiting from the defensive nature of their neighbours. The sweet, comical 'cooing' call of the Eider is a quality that distinguishes it from any other duck. It is a true 'sea duck', feeling at home swimming in large groups through strong surf. Flight is fast, direct and usually just above the water, with parties flying in single file. The Eider is distributed from Northumberland into Scotland and along the northern coast of Ireland. During the winter months they can be spotted further south along the English coast, reaching as far as Cornwall.

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