margaretandroger's picture

Diving Duck in the North Sea off The Leas, South Shields

Observed: 5th July 2013 By: margaretandroger
Diving Duck (1) in the North Sea off The Leas, South Shields
Diving Duck (2) in the North Sea off The Leas, South Shields
Diving Duck (3) struggling to eat a large ?fish off The Leas, South Shields

One of 3 black and white diving ducks which we watched from the cliff path along the coast near Whitburn between South Shields and Sunderland. The sea was so clear and calm that although we were a long distance from them, we watched this one swimming under the sea for about a minute. It came to the surface with something very large in its bill which looked like a fish - it struggled to eat it

Species interactions

No interactions present.


dejayM's picture


We have many thousands of eider here and that unfinished plumage is normal for young males, last years' I think.
They eat mostly mussels and it would be rare for one to have a fish.
Nice pictures and some good descriptive text. Well done.

margaretandroger's picture

Diving Ducks - Common Eiders (Somateria mollissima)

Thank you for the identifications and comments. Having read j.tweedy's post and looked at the link on Wikipedia, it seems that what we saw were male Eiders in "eclipse plumage", which is something we didn't know about and is not illustrated in any of our bird books. They can't be this year's juveniles, but could they have been last year's juveniles? We are confused as to whether they were juveniles or adult males in eclipse plumage. We have seen adult males in the past at the beginning of June and end of May and never seen plumage like this. If it is eclipse plumage, when does it happen, how quickly does the change happen and how long does it last for?


margaretandroger's picture

Eider ducks

Thanks for the information about what Eider ducks eat. Perhaps it was a large mussel which we saw it struggling with. It was so far away, we couldn't see any details or shape.