Stumbling across a Great Skua

Great Skuas are one of my favourite birds. They are a constant delight as they patrol the shoreline, flying low and surprising us as they sail effortlessly past.

This time I’ve been lucky and stumbled across one close by on Papa Westray:

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

What a magnificent beast:

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

I manœuvre around to get a plain background, hoping that it won’t fly.

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

I’ve never been this close and not been attacked. I think that’s probably a surprise to us both.

When it does take off it shows its characteristic white wing flashes:

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

And then lands further away to preserve its dignity.

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

What a beautiful encounter.

More Great Skuas

2020 highlights of a wilder Orkney life 2020 highlights of a wilder Orkney life In 2020 I managed two trips to Orkney. I did it by self-isolating for two weeks before travelling and then… read more
Great Skuas and Kittiwake - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Escape? After seeing a couple of successful attacks by Great Skuas against juvenile Kittiwakes I feared the worst when this one… read more
Great Skua and Gannet - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) The Great Skua and the Gannet’s tail Gannets are big birds. On the cliffs they dwarf their Guillemot neighbours. They have fearsome beaks and could easily do… read more
Great Skua and Kittiwake on Westray - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) I’m exhausted and exhilarated at being a witness to something so primeval May I introduce you to the cast of characters of this eternal struggle? This is an adult Kittiwake, one of… read more
Great Skua - Westray - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Bonxie ballet Great Skuas are large birds. They're the size of a gull. They are powerful and barrel-chested. Bonxie is their local… read more
Arctic Terns and Great Black Backed Gull - Westray - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Who’s afraid of the Black-Backed Gull? Today I'm heading north to the most desolate coastline on Westray. Here, even the lichens and seaweeds and barnacles struggle… read more
Great Skua - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) The Kray Twins There's a young Great Skua ahead. That spells danger. There must be an adult or two around somewhere and I… read more
Great Skua - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Skua Patrol Great Skuas eat fish, carrion or other birds. I've seen them pluck another bird clean out of the air and… read more
Great Skua - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Great Skuas Great Skuas are called great, not because they are wonderful, which they are, but because they are large. They're really… read more

Feel free to leave a Reply :)