Eider given it one

Now fully recovered from appalling cold, back to the delights of winter birding in Shetland. Took the cowards option yesterday of doing all my local patch birding from the comfort of the kitchen window. Advantages – central heating, out of the biting northerly wind, steady scope, mug of coffee, hot buttered toast, panoramic view of the sea. Disadvantages – er, none.

Gave the seawatch an hour, inspired by my first 3 Razorbills of the year, a Great Northern Diver showing a suspicion of summer plumage, and my second Eider of the year on my patch, this time a male. Joined at the end of the hour by a second male, a very influx by the standards of the north-east end of the isle.

The second male was interesting (I need to get out more…), insofar as it looked like a borealis Eider – bill a glowing orange in the sunlight, and even had noticeable scapular sails. This would be semi-exciting if it weren’t for reading last year that these borealis lookalikes seem to be just that – occasional locally bred anomalies, rather than genuinely farflung vagrants. It seems that a locally bred and ringed borealis-lookalike hangs out on the Ythan, with other good-looking borealis candidates also present thereabouts. (Read all about it on the excellent George Bristow’s Secret Freezer blog here – http://proregulus.blogspot.com/2007/02/more-faux-borealis-common-eiders.html ). Which rather pisses on the whole finding-a-borealis-Eider parade.

Still, it was a good-looking beastie, and worth making some notes on. Which I did. And which reminds me I need to get my arse in gear to write British Birds a letter about cannibalism in Fulmars. Yum.

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