23rd May 2011 – Long-tailed Skua Heaven

Well, what an afternoon. I’m still stunned at what I’ve just seen. I was beginning to think I was going to have my poorest skua season ever, and then today happened. I knew the weather forecast looked promising, the Met Office had issued an ‘amber’ warning for potentially damaging winds but little did I know what lay ahead. The storm certainly arrived, and the skuas arrived too, with the once mythical Long-tailed Skua moving through in numbers never seen before on the Solway. In fact as soon as I arrived at the shelter and set up my scope the very first bird I saw was a Long-tailed! I knew this could be good. Later I picked up a flock of distant skuas, fifteen birds, and as they moved in closer it was clear they were Long-tailed Skuas too. With all 4 ‘British’ skuas in the bag, surely it couldn’t get much better, but it was about to really hot up. Again I got onto a group of distant skuas under Criffel, they were flying low over the water, and there was lots of them! Even at this distance the jizz of these birds was totally unlike Pom, being very bouyant and lightweight, but we soon lost them due to trees in the way. We ran down to the seat near the shore and soon picked them up again. We could hardly believe what we were seeing. They were all Long-taileds, and they were coming in. After watching them for a while I grabbed my camera and got some really bad shots of them, I’m afraid my 400mm lens wasn’t powerful enough to show them in their full glory but at least you get an idea of the flock size…

We reckoned about 44 birds in total, easily the largest flock ever seen in Cumbria. Later on another 2 went through with 4 Poms and a Bonxie. So at least 60 birds today. Here’s a few more pics of a memorable few hours…

A Bonxie and 3 Poms

A Fulmar battles the storm

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One Response to 23rd May 2011 – Long-tailed Skua Heaven

  1. Lee Dingain says:

    What a truely amazing day! Fantastic photos as well.

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