Eider Ducks in Budle Bay: the UK’s heaviest and fastest-flying duck, this sea duck comes to many Northumbrian and Scottish coasts in February, for breeding. Hunted almost to extinction in the late 19th century, they have built back up but are on the amber list. They feed on crustaceans and molluscs. Their favourite, Mussels, they swallow whole. The strong muscles in their gizzards break the shells down. They are long-lived, the oldest known being 22. Some farmers in Iceland still gather their down from nests for eponymous ‘eider downs’. St Cuthbert, the 7th century monk, protected them by law, on the Farne Islands, one of the earliest known acts of formal conservation. For this
they are known locally as St Cuthbert’s or Cuddy’s Duck. Conditions: The bright, dry spell continues. Temperature: Max 6- Min 3c.