Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Ring of Steel

There are many hazards for Eider ducklings. They are born very small and vulnerable. Up to a thousand Eiders nesting around the Isle of May NNR. Gulls are the biggest danger to the ducklings and eggs of Eiders.  I captured this sequence of shots demonstrating a few of the techniques that eiders have adopted to help defend their young.

This Greater Black-backed Gull takes an interest in this creche of Eiders. See how a group of females are working together to protect the young, forming a 'ring of steel.'

An adult breaks away from the group and starts to throw her head back  and calling, threatening the gull.

She then plonks herself down forming a barrier between the rest of the group and the gull

The gull attempts another attack from the front but is driven away by the adult at the front

This group got safely down to the ditch at Horse Hole where they could see shelter. The gull gave up shortly afterwards It is a great demonstration of teamwork by these birds. I hope they made safe passage over to the Fife coast!

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