Tag Archives: Catharacta skua

Photographing birds on the Shetland island Foula

SchmarotzerraubmoeweA barely inhabited island, rugged cliffs, changing light moods and unusual species of animals: this is how the Shetland island of Foula presents itself. A terrain made for nature photographers. As long as the wind does not blow the equipment or the showers from the sea put everything under water.

When I visited the Shetland island of Foula in June, this was mainly with the aim of taking photos of the Great Skua (Stercorarius skua). On Foula you will find the world’s largest breeding colony of this species. The Skua is the highwayman of the island. She is also a true flying artist. Nobody – except perhaps the Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus), which is found mainly in the south of the island – can take it with her in terms of agility and aggressiveness. It is impressive to see how Skuas keep track of Parasitic Jaegers again and again on its heels. It is amazing to which turning maneuvers both Jaegers are capable. A special feature of the Skua is the attacking of birds, heavily laden with food. Many seabirds return from the sea to their offspring. The victim is pursued by Parasitic Jaeger and Skuas as well and attacked until it vomits the prey. Still in free fall, the vomited prey is seized by the Skua in an artistic dive and brought to its own offspring to the nest.

I was deeply impressed not only by the almost unlimited possibilities to document the interesting behavior of the Great Skuas, but also by the other possibilities for taking pictures. Scenic Foula has a lot to offer. Da Kame is the second highest sea cliff in the UK at about 400 meters. In order to take the many seabirds, plants and the landscape into the viewfinder, I returned to the island at the end of July again. Continue reading Photographing birds on the Shetland island Foula

Foula: Heimat der grössten Skua-Brutkolonie

SkuaEtwas kam wie ein Bomber aus dem Zweiten Weltkrieg aus Richtung der hochstehenden Sonne heruntergestürzt, schwankte gefährlich mit seinen Flügeln auf mich zu, bevor es im letzten Moment abbrach und mich atemlos und erschüttert zurückließ. Der braune Vogel bringt mir bei, dass ich zu nahe an sein Nest komme, dachte ich. Denn irgendwo auf dem sumpfigen Boden neben dem Bohlenweg mußte sich ein kleines, flauschiges Küken befinden, das vor Eindringlingen geschützt werden musste.

Skuas (Stercorarius skua) sind beeindruckende Vögel. Mit ihrem dunkelbraunen Gefieder und den breiten Flügeln sehen sie eher aus wie eine Kreuzung zwischen Bussard und Möwe allerdings mit doppelt so viel Aggressionspotential. Sie sind auch eher seltene Vögel, die man abseits des Atlantiks und seiner Küste sehen kann. Weit über die Hälfte der Population weltweit – ungefähr 10.000 Paare – brütet in Schottland. Die meisten auf den Shetlandinseln, wo sie unter dem altnordischen Namen „Bonxie“ bekannt sind. Auf Foula befindet sich die weltweit größte Brutkolonie dieser Art.  Die Berge und weiten Moor- und Heideflächen der Shetlandinsel Foula sind die Heimat für die weltgrößte Kolonie der Großen Raubmöwen, wie die Art auch genannt wird. In der Sprache der Einheimischen Continue reading Foula: Heimat der grössten Skua-Brutkolonie

Pelagic specialities on Bird-Lens

Great ShearwaterOn the western edge of the western palearctic pelagic birds are living and migrating. To see them, Bird-lens.com managed several trips already to Portugal and the Canary Islands. Now migrating seabirds with a more northern circle of migration could be observed on several pelagic trips with Joe Pender on his boat “Sapphire” off-shore the Isles of Scilly. A great experience. Thus for the keen birdwatcher of western palearctic birds these pelagic species do not need to stay on status “highly though-after mega birds”, but you can see them, too.

To see birds like Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis), Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris borealis), Great Shearwater (Puffinus gravis), Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus), Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus), Balearic Shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus), Wilson’s Storm-Petrel (Oceanites oceanicus), European Storm-Petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus), Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus ), Great Skua (Catharacta skua), Pomarine Jaeger (Stercorarius pomarinus), Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus), Long-tailed Jaeger (Stercorarius longicaudus ) and maybe even a Fea´s or Cape Verde Petrel or a Little Shearwater (Puffinus assimilis) in their element, a pelagic trip is a must!. A nice selection of the Images shot during the recent season you will find here or here!

It is advisable to go for locations on the western edge of the United Kingdom and book one of the pelagic trips – preferable with a reliable skipper like Joe is.
To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer birds of the western palearctic from science & public customers Bird-Lens is proud to present a wide range of pictures shot in the UK. Are you interested? A first impression you will find in the gallery here. Just give me a message, if Bird-lens could serve you with additional requests.
Other successful shootings you can see under: http://www.bird-lens.com/2012/09/09/pelagic-birds-in-the-western-palearctic/