Exceptional skua passage in the Outer Hebrides, May 2015

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Eyes and Ears Everywhere
Feb 7, 2017
Every year, birdwatchers head for the Outer Hebrides in May in the hope that they will experience the thrill of witnessing the spectacle of hundreds of skuas passing our shores. For those that were here in 2015, it was a once in a lifetime experience. That experience has been captured in this BirdGuides article detailing the events of that exceptional year.

The most spectacular spring seawatching event that Britain and Ireland can offer is without doubt the Arctic-bound passage of everyone's favourite kleptoparasites, the elegant Long-tailed Skua and its far burlier relative, Pomarine Skua. Either one of these species is often enough to headline a seawatch, even when sightings involve comparatively frumpish juveniles in the autumn, but spring adults are among the most beguiling ocean-goers and are capable of putting on a performance nothing short of staggering as they pass our shores.

In both species, it is the peculiar central tail feathers which make them so characterful and sought after, those of Long-taileds being delicate and wavy, adding sometimes upwards of 20cm to the bird's length, while Poms' are spoon-shaped and twisted in an otherwise unfamiliar fashion. The birds we see in the spring are making headway for their breeding grounds on the Arctic tundra where they will feed on anything from smaller birds to insects and berries after spending the winter in the South Atlantic.

The full article can be read in full here