Thursday, 24 September 2009

The Last Pelagic - Part 2 The Skuas.

Unless you happen to live in north west Spain or spent the Spring encamped under a railway viaduct on the Solway it seems to have been a poor year for Skuas in the north. Very few records of Long-tailed Skua in the North Sea and not great numbers of the commoner three. The three evening pelagics over July & August had produced two Arctic Skua, a mean return.
It was pleasing then to get a couple of skuas on last week's eight hour odyssey. First up was an adult Great Skua.

Great Skua adult
It or another was seen again later in the day. It was interesting to note that it/they seemed to focus slightly further back in the 'wake' of gulls rather than right up with the boat.
Later a single Pomarine Skua graced us with a reasonably close flyby. At the time I remember suggesting this was an intermediate bird but getting back and studying the images it wasn't. An adult, as there is virtually no barring on the underwing at all and it has a good tail 'spoon'. Possibly a female as they more frequently have the barring visible on the uppertail and flanks. It may be that this bird has already moulted into winter plumage as some non or failed breeders can apparently complete their moult early whilst still in the northern hemisphere. (Olsen & Larsson:Skuas & Jaegers)

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