June 12th   Leave a comment

The eider chicks are getting larger but are getting fewer in number. The gulls, particularly the great black-backed gulls, are picking them off one by one. It’s the main reason the chicks congregate in groups. For the individual chick there is safety in numbers and for the adults which also pool their resources, there is more effective defence in a group. I watched a group of four eider females defending six or so chicks successfully this evening at Balcomie. As a great black-backed gull flew over and stalled as if to plunge down on the chicks below the females all flocked together tightly around the chicks and stuck up their bills aggressively to stop the gull descending. They were also calling angrily. The gull broke off its attack immediately. A great black backed gull is a big mean bird but four angry female eiders are pretty mean looking too. To top it off, a female shelduck flew in to chase the gull off – even bigger and scarier than an eider. The gulls don’t always have it their way.

Eiders defending their chicks from a great-black-backed gull flying above them

The wader flocks have moved on again. Only three ringed plovers on Balcomie Beach this evening and a couple of curlews at Saucehope.

Ringed plover

Posted June 12, 2017 by wildcrail in Sightings

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