Sunday 16 August 2020

4 Skua Party - Flamborough Head

With a North-easter blowing and the threat of rain, I mistakenly headed for the Old Fall Oasis first, rather than the cliffs. A super-rare-looking Garden Warbler flitted down the hedgerow, but eventually perched briefly allowing me to abandon my wild optimism. Otherwise, three Lesser Whitethroats in the Golf Course Willows, a few Willow Warblers and several Whitethroats was all I could muster. Not even a sniff of a Pied Flycatcher, let alone an Icterine or Barred Warbler. 


On to the cliffs I went, where I discovered all the real birders were seawatching, not wasting their time bush-bashing! Fortunately, despite a good skua passage so far, more were to come and within the next couple of hours I saw at least five Long-tailed Skuas sprinting north, c15 Arctic Skuas, a trio of ponderous Great Skuas and possibly the highlight (because I love 'em!) a superb dark morph adult Pomarine Skua, cruising south menacingly, complete with full cutlery set. 'Also-rans' included a smart second summer Little Gull, juv Mediterrean Gull, hordes of terns including some gorgeous juvenile Arctics, c15 Manx Shearwaters, a few Common Scoters and some waders heading south. Also, at least five Harbour Porpoises.

I had some fun with trying to phone-scope flying skuas. Not easy as they were moving fast, it was windy and they were usually distant. A lot of the birds were at a distance where only jizz (size, shape, flight action, behaviour) gave a clue to identity and most birds were identified by the more experienced birders present, and some of those were done by consensus; a couple were so confusing that they were 'let go'. Have a look at the videos below and see if you agree with my identification - let me know on Twitter what you think!

Video 1: Great Skua, heading north.

Video 2: Pomarine Skua, dark morph adult -to see a fully-spooned dark morph adult is pretty special. Only c10% of birds are dark like this.

Video 3: Arctic Skua, pale morph adult.

Video 4: Arctic Skua, dark morph juvenile.

Video 5: Arctic Skua, dark morph juvenile

Video 6: Long-tailed Skua, pale morph juvenile.


Video 7: Arctic Skua, 2 dark morph juveniles.

Video 8: Long-tailed Skua, juvenile. Not 100% on this one!

Video 9: Long-tailed Skua, juvenile.

Video 10: Long-tailed Skua - 2 juveniles.


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