11th May 2013 – Long-tailed Skuas and lots of Poms…

Conditions on the Solway were looking favourable for some good skua passage today, so mid-morning I joined other birders and made myself comfortable, well sort of comfortable, at the shelter in Bowness.


When I arrived it was raining very heavily and continued to do so for some time, with those stupid enough (me) to be standing outside of the shelter getting a thorough soaking. But almost as soon as I set my scope up I was watching Pom Skuas – this could be good…





A few Arctics came through as well, the one pictured below literally came right over us at the shelter…


As well as the Arctics and Poms a few Bonxies came through, but of course it’s the Long-tailed Skua that we were all hoping for, and at 1300hrs we got our first ones of the year – 3 adult birds in a nice tight group spiralling up high heading in. Their jizz is very different to the others skuas, appearing more bouyant and tern-like, and even though these birds were gaining height and fairly distant it was still possible to see their long tails – stunning birds every time. Then at 1323hrs a single stunning adult Long-tailed Skua passed the shelter at reasonably close range – possibly giving me the best view I’ve ever had of this species – it was so good that I savoured every second of it and by the time I grabbed my camera it was getting distant – record shots below…

At least you can tell what it is...

At least you can tell what it is…




My skua totals were 45 Poms, 4 Long-tailed’s, 5 Bonxies and 13 Arctics. Other bits included a Manx Shearwater, Fulmar, a Little Gull, quite a few terns and a group of Gannets… a great few hours and a good laugh too.


If you want to be totally gripped off, take a look the website below, click on ‘Recent Sightings’ and just look at those skua shots from 11th May…


Flippin’ eck. How I wish I was there to see them like that…


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4 Responses to 11th May 2013 – Long-tailed Skuas and lots of Poms…

  1. Carl Baggott says:

    What a fantastic experience, I’m truly envious. All the skuas are top birds, but the long-tailed’s are extra smart. let’s hope the passage continues for you for a few more days yet.

    • Cheers Carl, it’s always an adrenalin rush when you get onto a Long-tailed, and Mondays forecast is looking promising….Have you seen the photos of the birds passing the Western Isles? Breathtaking. Would love to go there for the skuas.

  2. Justin Crr says:

    Cracking shots, a friend and i are coming tommorow but we are not familiar with the area so is there any chance of directions to the shelter cheers

    • The shelter is easy enough to find, Bowness-on-Solway is only a tiny village. Make sure you park considerately as the road is very narrow through the village, the best place is on the straight road alongside the ‘railings’ as you approach the village from Port Carlisle (ie before you get to Shore Gate B&B). Walk past the B&B up into the village for about 50 yards, on your right you are looking for a brown sign saying ‘Banks Promenade’. Take this path and the shelter is just around the corner.

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