Friday, 6 May 2016

The Great Spring Pomarine Skua fly-by at Dungeness

Plenty of plumage variation in this flock of Pomarine Skuas flying past the Dungeness buoy
 In a few days time the Pomarine Skuas I saw passing Dungeness point last night (Thursday May 5th) will be feasting themselves on eggs, ducklings, fish and lemmings on Russia's tundra wilderness.  If I was there to watch, I’d see them acting like Magpies in this country - always on the lookout for a robbery and being something of a menace to every living thing around them. I probably wouldn't like them much.

But on migration they present a very different image. They look powerful and attractive; imperious to all other birds on the sea.  For sea watchers like me their annual spring migration past Dungeness is a short-lived event spanning only a few days. Good weather and lots of luck is needed - a good view is never guaranteed.

When I see them like I did last night with the sun sharp and bright, low across a deep blue sea they're a fantastic sight. The Pomarine's plumage is a striking mix of contrasting brown and white and their long, pointed wings and long tails twist at the end with spoons they look simply stunning.

As I watched them last night, flying in a tight flock, they had the look of a prestigious military fly-pass; heads straight ahead, a purposeful majestic flight, never straying off line, never to return and quickly to move on and out of view.  Once they’re gone I know, as do all the other sea watchers at Dungeness, that we’ve all seen something rare and special.

In this flock a couple of immature Gannets are present. I saw a total of 34 Pomarine Skua on May 5th
Accompanying the Skua passage were little flocks of summer plumaged Little Gulls total of 16.


Ploddingbirder said...

Very nice Nick. If only I'd stayed with you!!!!!

Clare Gillatt said...

Wonderful account I feel like I was there!