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Common Eider (Somateria mollissima)

Jack the drake common eider was found, sadly, washed up at North Berwick (East Lothian) in March 2011. He was brought to Tyneside and later delivered to the taxidermist for preservation. He is a very popular exhibit in our bird displays. Inside Jack was some beech mast (or nuts) – the fruit of a beech tree … unusual! Eiders normally feed on shellfish from the bottom of the sea or estuary … collected as they dive from the surface. The eider is a large sea duck and we have a regular wintering population in the lower reaches of the River Tyne, up to thirty or so, with smaller summering numbers. In Northumberland they nest on the Farne Islands and Coquet Island and their ducklings can be seen to gather in a crèche at Amble harbour. A drake eider is the symbol of the Northumberland & Tyneside Bird Club. The first part of the scientific name for this species is Somateria … ‘soma’ comes from the Greek for body and ‘erion’ meaning down – its soft body down is used in bedding and pillows. duck

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