King Eider

King Eider (drake) © Tristan Reid

King Eiders are truly spectacular birds and I have been lucky enough to see quite a few in the UK and Ireland. However, nothing prepared me for the sheer numbers and views I experienced in Arctic Norway.  I photographed this drake at Båtsfjord from a floating hide. More details can be found here:http://www.varanger.net/batsfjord

King Eider (drake) © Tristan Reid

These birds are so stunning and I was so happy to enjoy such great views of these special birds.

King Eider (female) © Tristan Reid

According to Wikipedia The king eider is circumpolar, found throughout the Arctic. It breeds on the Arctic coast of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Svalbard and Russia, using a variety of tundra habitats. It winters in arctic and subarctic marine areas, most notably in the Bering Sea, the west coast of Greenland, eastern Canada and northern Norway. Wintering birds can form large flocks on suitable coastal waters, with some flocks exceeding 100,000 birds. It also occurs annually off the northeastern United States, UK and Kamchatka.

The king eider’s foraging strategies change depending on the season. For much of the year, it is at sea; there, it dives for benthic invertebrates. During the breeding season, it does more of its foraging on freshwater lakes and ponds, where it dabbles, feeding primarily on small invertebrates plucked from the surface of the water. It feeds on molluscs, crustaceans like king crabs, and on sea urchins, starfish and sea anemones.

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