8 October 2012

A pelagic visitor..............

OK I know it's a crappy picture and a very heavy crop  but it is quite an interesting bird....................

It was identified as a South Polar Skua, a visitor to northern oceans in the the southern winter I guess.

Taken from the pelagic trip off Tomakomai on Sunday. I was the only person who saw this individual, I didn't even ID it until a couple of hours later. when it was suggested it was a South Polar Skua................there must have been more than one around because luckily the other people on the boat saw a distant one later (I missed that one).

**Edited to add**

It seems to be that this was misidentified and  is actually a Pomarine Skua, check out the comments below and on this thread on birdforum.

I made a bit of a fool of myself, after 4 boat trips I still haven't worked out how to put on the lifejacket properly and have to be shown how to do it. I think I've worked it out now but I fully expect to stare at one in a dumbfounded way the next time.

Apart from the Skua it wasn't a productive trip...........................there were almost no birds on the sea at all. Really, virtually nothing. Except a few Streaked Shearwater, none of them particularly close.

Very nice autumnal weather and it was quite relaxing on the boat.

I don't regret missing the Liverpool v Stoke game at least.

Thanks for clicking this link.......


  1. Pretty good find. One can't be so successful with Ids and know how to put a life jacket on as well. The colour of the sea looks pretty good too.

  2. We saw the individual which you took photo, but we could not identify whether skua or juvenile gull at that time. Your photo was crucial evidence to ID.
    And no one except you took photo of skua in this time.

    Thank you join the cruise, it was one of the worst birds number in my organized.
    Please join again next time.

  3. Hi Tomoyuki, thanks for the comment. The 3 other cruises I joined before were all great, I'm sure the next one will be great too.....

    Hi Russell, I've always had problems doing 2 things at the same time...........

  4. It's funny how a quiet trip can turn up the rares.
    Is the Skua a juv?

  5. Hi Stuart, I'm not sure........it looks like an intermediate phase bird but iI don't know its age. In the fieldguide I have adults and immatures look almost the same......

  6. Great blog Stuart always a really good read and excellent photos.

    Sorry but it doesn't look like any South Polar Skuas I've seen. Looks like a Pom.

  7. HI Alan, why do you think so?

    Have to say Skua ID is not my strong point.

  8. That dark barring/flecking on the white belly is something you get on Stercorarius skuas (Pom,Arctic & Long-T). South Polar Skua doesn't show a white belly at any stage. Even at it's palest there would be no contrast with the face and neck (which would also be pale cream, not white).

    Also I think you can just see some barring on the uppertail coverts. Again not a S-P Skua characteristic.

    Sorry Stuart :(
    Could be a Pom or an Arctic?

  9. Thanks Alan, yes I think you're right. The white belly is the giveaway I think.

  10. Pity that it was a "slow day" - pelagics can be really hit-or-miss..... there's no middle ground is there ?

  11. Hi John, your pelagic in South Africa certainly wasn't 'slow'!


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