Arctic Skuas come to Orkney to breed. They’re kleptoparasites, attacking birds with fish and stealing their meal. They also attack people with huge swooping dives like an out-of-control kite if they get too close to their nest. I’m hoping I won’t stumble too close.
There’s a juvenile Arctic Skua on the grass in front of us. All the others have flown off when we have approached, yet this one hasn’t. It soon becomes apparent why. It takes off, flutters, and one wing points to the sky, another to the ground and it falls in an undignified lump to the earth. It’s got a broken wing.
It has a ginger and black plumage combination which is very unlike the adults.
The black-tipped beak is almost blue. There’s the dark patch of feathers in front of the eye and subtly disruptive spots and stripes
We check with the locals, and find that they know about it. It’s already been decided to leave it to its fate.
It won’t survive. These photographs will, though, and they’ll tell the story of a magnificent creature.