Spotted by a Skua

Seeing an Arctic Skua is like witnessing a mythical bird come to life. If they didn’t exist they would have to have been invented in literature. As fantastical beasts, tales of their lives would have been embellished over millennia to become almost as fantastical as they are in reality.

There are only a couple of thousand breeding pairs in the UK. It’s thrilling to see one fly past.

Arctic Skua - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Looking out from the cliffs at Noup Head we can see them hunting for birds bringing home a fish. They dive and swoop like hawks, changing direction in dizzying displays of aerial acrobatics as they chase Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills and any other bird with a tasty fish in its beak. Why hunt when you can hunt the hunters? The choice is an easy one: Drop the fish and I’ll leave you alone.

Arctic Skuas remind me of the unbearably cool Omar Little character in the multi-award-winning drama The Wire. He just robs drug dealers.

This one spots us as it cruises past:

Arctic Skua - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Its gaze is ever so slightly unnerving. I’m feeling relieved I don’t have a fish.

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