24 December 2011

Pomarine still present.

 And what a present!! Merry Christmas.


Barry Stewart said...

Great Photos Mark of a very interesting bird. Although it shows good Pomarine structure, with very broad-based wings and heavy-looking body, plumage-wise your photos seem to suggest this is an Arctic Skua? Note the limited black below the gape,bill not too heavy with pale feathering at the base, breast-band looks soft and there's very no hint of carpal crescent. Not 100% sure but I'd probably go for Arctic - comments welcome...

Barry Stewart said...

One thing's for sure, with just one leg, it's clearly not the Gileston bird. Hopefully it will stick around as I'd like to see it for myself.

Steve Hinton said...

Pale base to the bill would suggest Arctic. Great shots Mark.

Anonymous said...


The very noticeable breast band, deep barrel-shaped body and, critically, the base of wing:tail ratio look extremely good for a Pom. The base of wing depth looks much too deep for an Arctic to me -and looks identical to that shown on film of a Pom on BWP interactive.

If this isn't a Pom, then I would be a bit concerned over any future fight-only records of Pom Skua.

Clive Hurford

Mark Hipkin said...

Hey Clive,

I have to admit that this Skua has left me well and truly stumped. However, I was willing to accept that the pale above the bill and the bill size and colour are indicative of Arctic. I've found photos of Pom with some white feathering above the bill but not as extensive as on this bird. While the bill is not small as on many Arctic it doesn't appear quite as striking as on many Pom. It probably lies somewhere in the overlap range. The bill colour appears quite uniform as on Arctic but there is a hint of 2 tone on closer inspection. Sitting down it appears to be Arctic.

In flight it is a different bird and looks heavy to me. The pale and clean-ish area around the vent does seem to be more Arctic-like than Pom but everything else does seem to suggest Pom. The wing base:tail length is very Pom like. The bird has only got one leg and the feathers around the vent, undertail coverts and tail do seem to be fairly tatty and worn. It seems unlikely but, maybe this bird has managed to lose some tail length in an attack of some kind? Would this give the bird a heavier appearance is hard to say?

If I saw a bird like this flying at range I would be happy to call it Pom and I doubt I'll get many more views like this one to get the other features.

I'd be the first to admit my experience of watching Skuas is at very basic level compared to a lot of birders and it's a shame that a more skilled seawatcher didn't get to watch this bird in flight to qualify my claim that this bird looked heavy.

There are more photos of this bird and discussion on the GRC Forum blog found on the related links further up the front page of this blog on the right. Unfortunately the comments on the GRC blog had to be disabled due to some serial abusive comments last year.

Barry Stewart said...

I admit I thought this was a Pom based on Dai's earlier photos, but Marks clearer shots reveal key details and I think there is little doubt this is a very heavy-looking Arctic. I agree with Clive that flybys of birds without tail projections that are identified primarily on jizz and/or wing:tail ratio are likely to be unsafe.