Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Arctic and Great Skuas

I first visited Handa Island back in May 2014, (blog here). I thought at the time I had gone too early as I saw few Arctic Skuas, plenty of Bonxies but none on nesting territories.  I just had to have  a return visit to redress the balance. So whilst on holiday in Scotland I booked a day tour with David Slater of Birding Ecosse fame/notoriety. Money well spent as, along with other birders Alan and Tony, we had a whale of a time. A great day out - highly recommended.

I found Dave's description of the Arctic Skua as a Spitfire and the Bonxie as a Bomber most fitting. The Arctics or Parasitic Skuas as they are known elsewhere terrorised everything, including each other, whilst the Bonxies appeared to target the Auk species.

As it happened I only photographed the Skuas but there were thousands of other birds present. On the Great Stack there were Fulmars, Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Guillemots, Puffins, Ravens and sundry gulls. As we were waiting for the return boat Alan managed to find a "Tystie" or Black Guillemot, really nice to see as I needed it for a year tick.

Arctic Skua - dark phase


Arctic Skua - pale phase

Another - this one was carrying a ring - white "D9" ??

Fighters need to be kept in tip-top condition




Great Skua or Bonxie not quite so agile

Definitely a heavyweight

Not many on the ground

A bit intimidating for any prey

White wing patches - classic id feature.

Stunning rugged scenery with a pristine beach thrown in - what more could you ask for.


The Sound of Handa

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