King Eider - The King Of The Arctic Sea Ducks

King Eiders can be found over a wide geographic area and even occasional visitors to Britain, I have seen them off the coast of Ayre and in Shetland.  But these are isolated individual birds, their normal home is further north around the Arctic Circle.   During Winter months a visit to Finnmark in the extreme northeast of Norway, is a great place to visit to experience the wilderness of an Arctic winter, for the photographer, the vast wilderness and the towns of Vardo, and Varso are very interesting places.  Along these coasts and in the sea lochs, King Eiders are one of the iconic seaduck species to be found in the area.  Indeed, sometimes huge flocks of ducks congregate up to 200, 000 birds in size.  But its no exaggeration to say how cold it is on a boat in one of these arctic sea lochs photographing these lovely colourful birds.


The above images are of male birds in some good light, but as they live so far north, it is more usual to find them in more indifferent light,  I was pleased to also be able to photograph King Eiders in falling snow.

The male and female are birds easy to tell apart, the male King Eider is easily identifiable from other ducks by the striking coloured feathers on its head.  But it is much harder to tell a female King Eider from females of other Eider species.

Below is a "take off" sequence which is always great fun to both watch and photograph.
The Barents Sea, sitting at the far northern area of mainland Europe is also a great place to see Long Tailed Ducks.  The numbers of these ducks is much lower than the numbers of Eider ducks.  But Long Tailed Ducks are also a great sight birds swimming along side the ice in the freezing cold water.