Friday, 7 March 2014

Skua passage

Skua passage has been building slowly over the last week with 20-30 birds seen most days- usually single birds but occasional flocks of 3-4. Yesterday morning the pace increased and I counted 250+ birds passing the ship  in the first two hours of daylight. Most of the individuals concerned appeared to be pomarine skuas, although a few arctic skuas were also noted. The highlight however was the presence of several long-tailed skuas. Interestingly I saw a flock of 30 or so skuas that appeared to be migrating low over the water in the company of Cory's shearwaters- all the birds working their way WNW using lazy, languid wingbeats in the almost still air. At one stage the birds rested momentarily on the sea before resuming their passage. It was also interesting to see 3 poms. scrapping over an eel that had been caught by one of the birds. The bright tropical sunlight is very flat and I am struggling to find a suitable camera setting but have managed a few shots.

a great spectacle!
long-tailed skua
Arctic skua
long-tailed skua
Poms at play!
long-tailed skuas
pomarine skua


  1. Great blog Andy! That b/w shot of the Poms with the eel is superb

  2. Many thanks Mike- shows how bad my photography is- was supposed to be a colour shot! ;) The 'tumbling' skua was impressive though!

  3. Hi Andy,

    Reading these blog posts in eager anticipation of skuas & shearwaters returning to Irish waters! Heading offshore myself next week along the continental shelf edge. Will be hoping for my first Manxies & Puffins of the year, some remaining winter visitors like Little Auk & Blue Fulmar and perhaps some wildfowl migration. A few blog posts should appear on the following link over the next couple of weeks to feel free to check it out!

    Previous offshore seabird/cetacean blogs...

    All the best,
    Niall Keogh

  4. Hi Niall- good to hear from you. Hope you have a good voyage- certainly a good time to be heading out! Have tried to join the scientistsatsea blog without success but will try again- looking forward to reading your updates. Keep safe, cheers, Andy