Posts Tagged ‘Great Skua



Despite the massive reduction of Bonxies (up to 80%) we found a bathing group of Great Skuas this week in the heights of Scotland. Twenty-two birds eventually came together in a small lochan for a wash and brush up. The sighting prompted us to ponder what the collective noun should be for a group of skuas. We came up with ‘An attack’ of skuas.

I was in conversation with Simon Barnes about his wife’s lovely art installation at Cley. Cindy is very talented, if you are around please go and see it first-hand. I mentioned the sighting of the skuas to Simon and he said the following: ‘Surely an assault of bonxies. More violent and a punning hint of their environment’

What do you think?


Some you loose some you gain

Some great seabirds up in Mull. Interestingly very few Great Skuas but BIG flocks of Manx Shearwaters.

Bonxie Manx Shearwater


A stomach for it

Some people love them, some hate them. Without doubt a pelagic trip is the best way to see seabirds. There’s the rub … you need the stomach for it.

Earlier this month out of Tobormory in Mull we were lucky enough to have relatively calm seas and saw Storm Petrels, Manx Shearwaters and Great Skuas – one of which had been colour ringed in either Shetland or Handa Island to the north. At the time I took the series of shots of this Bonxie robbing a Kittiwake of a Sand Eel I never saw the ring. I almost discarded the one photo showing the ring as it was slightly out of focus but all the other shots in the series did not show the bird to be wearing a ring at all.

Storm Petrel

Manx Shearwater

Great Skua


Sinister Pirates

The sky was a pale blue and cloudless. The air was still; the gentle movement of the sea made a southing lapping sound against the hull. What had been a disturbing swell the previous evening had turned into a flat calm and the climbing sun was getting hot.

We were on the edge of a ‘fall off’ in the middle of the North Sea; the western edge of the Dogger Bank. The Wildlife Tours and Education Seabird and Cetacean Pelagic was in progress. The upwelling current was pushing plankton and fish to the surface and there were things there exploiting the bonanza. Grey Seals 70 miles out to sea, a steady procession of Gannets diving and the odd Auk bringing an occasional Sand Eel to the surface were all seen.

The icing on the cake for avian fans was an adult Sabine’s Gull that slowly drifted over the boat to settle in our wake among the Fulmars … a Blue Fulmar among them. Minke Whales and Harbour Porpoise came later on our return journey.

Perhaps personally the best part of the trip for me was the close encounters with the Arctic and Great Skua’s. These are true pirates of the sea that came floating over us as they fed on our ‘chum trail’; elegant yet sinister birds.

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Mar 2023


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