Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Badly dressed eiders

One of the highlights of our summer trip to Cape Cod was the whale watching out from Provincetown. The whales were abundant, diverse and spectacular and the birds weren't bad either. As we left the harbour we sailed past these Dresser's Eiders. This taxon is either considered to be a North American form of the Common Eider or a distinct species in its own right. I don't mind either way, but the drakes are certainly distinctive with the enlarged lobes stretching up their faces.

Here are two different males - the only two I managed shots of. I am not sure how variable the lobe shape is in this form but like other eiders I have seen there is a slight variation in lobe shape even in this tiny sample... Not much variation in their plumage though - universally grotty...

The females do not share the extensive lobes and I am not sure whether they could be distinguished from our birds easily. I have lightened this picture to get an idea of the lobe shape in this female Dresser's Eider; it appears to extend gracefully toward the eye.

Finally here are some moulting male Common Eiders photographed at Musselburgh a few days ago - puny lobes in comparison to the males above. And no better dressed either...

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