Tony Marr found a juvenile skua at dawn by the Butt of Lewis lighthouse and was amazed to discover it. It was initially identified as a young Long tailed Skua – the rarest of the four skuas that occur around the islands.
The bird had fractured its wing and could not be saved despite a mercy mission. It did provide a valuable identification lesson. Note the heavy barring and overall rather dark plumage of the bird, but especially note the two rounded stumpy central tail feather which seperate it from (the more likely) Arctic Skua of a similar age.
In the cold light of day, and following a prompt from Mr Millington, measurements suggest it is actually a Pomarine. All those little anomalous features we noticed at the time – stout appearance, slightly hefty bill, black confined to the tip, a bit of white on the primary shafts when the wing was stretched open. But blinded by the choice presented between Long-tailed and Arctic, we didn’t add them up and draw the obvious conclusion! Full necessary biometrics will be taken. Following on from the ‘Scilly southern Skua’ in the hand a few years ago it seems that inhand is more troublesome than infield.
Amazingly a Pomarine Skua was watched flying north as this bird was being loaded into the car for its journey to the vets!
A pod of 9 Risso’s Dolphins also showed well at Port of Ness as did the resident Glaucous Gull.