Rare duck’s first visit to county
SUFFOLK: Birdwatchers have been flocking to see the first appearance in the county of a scarcely-seen duck.
The king eider was first spotted off Kessingland on Sunday, before being seen offshore from RSPB Minsmere nature reserve later that day.
It remained offshore for a few days, drifting along the coast between Dunwich and Sizewell.
RSPB spokesman, Ian Barthorpe, said: “King eiders are gorgeous birds, although, as this is a youngster, it’s less distinctive than an adult male.
“While they’re not especially rare birds nationally, this is the first one ever seen in Suffolk, so it has proved popular with local birdwatchers.
“It’s often been close to the beach, allowing some of our visitors to take some excellent photographs.”
King eiders breed throughout the Arctic from western Siberia and Spitsbergen to Alaska and Arctic Canada. One or two regularly spend the winter off our coast, especially in Scotland and NE England.
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Like the much commoner eider, they spend their lives at sea.
Adult males are mainly black, with extensive white markings on their back and wings.
Their heads are intricately patterned with powder-blue, pale green and bright orange, set off by a bright red bill.
Young males, like the one in Suffolk, are mainly dark brown, gradually acquiring a white breast, orange bill and distinctive “sails” on their backs.