2nd year Artic Skua
Last weekend I finally got out onto a pelagic from Ireland. Have been geared up to go on a few over the years but all have been cancelled due to bad weather. Fortunately this time round the weather was looking good, if anything a little too good! With little wind and rain forcast, I wasn't hugely optimistic of anything too spectacular. However, from the first rays of light as we chugged past the lighthouse on Loop head it was clear that is was going to be a memorable day. Storm petrels pattered around the boat in amazing numbers, manxies were scattered into a few large rafts and our first sooty shear, great and artic skua passed by very quickly. We ploughed out to 10 miles and began to chum, immediately attracting in several stormies, fulmars and a few close passes by sooty shearwaters. A minke whale was seen twice, while upto 200 common dolphins were constantly moving around the boat, often coming in to ride the bow waves. As the chum slick spread out, large numbers of stormies came in close and attracted in 4 great and an artic skua. The artic skua was initially identified as a long tailed as it passed over head, the 1st of 2 wilson's petrels was found almost immediately afterwards and focus shifted from the skua. I spent most of the time watching and trying to photograph the skua as the wilson's stayed quite distant, it did look bulkier and less agile than I thought long tailed should be, but several of the features pointed to it being a long tail. In future I'll have to put the camera away and watch the birds!
A great day out could have been even better, I stopped off on the long journey home to check Moyasta and have some coffee, as I got up to leave I caught a glimpse of a harrier that passed behind a small copse of trees never to reappear somehow. I hit the road and 10 minutes later I got the call from a friend to say he had just found a pallid harrier a short distance from where I had this bird! Feck it anyways!
Some great views of the artic skua as it passed over heard seveal times.
Sabines gull, this adult was one of 2 that spent 40 minutes circling the boat, the 2nd was an immature lacking the yellow tip to the bill.
Storm Petrol, over 300 were seen during the day, several feeding just off the back of the boat.
Sooty Shearwater, one of over 20 seen, a few passed very close.