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Great Skua

Great Skua
Photo Information
Copyright: Peter van Zoest (PeterZ) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2013-08-05
Categories: Birds
Camera: Nikon D90, Sigma 135-400mm f/4.5-5.6 APO, Digital RAW
Exposure: f/10.0, 1/250 seconds
Details: Tripod: Yes
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Animals' Behavior, part one [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2013-08-14 6:05
Viewed: 3378
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 44
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
On the same place where hundreds of Puffins breed on the cliffs, on the flat upper side of this former island, breeds the Skua, a great enemy of the Puffin. I saw a Great Skua flying with a young Puffin in its beak.
The skuas were attacking us while we walked very careful between their chicks.

The Great Skua (Stercorarius skua) is a large seabird in the skua family Stercorariidae. In Britain, it is sometimes known by the name Bonxie, a Shetland name of Norse origin.

This is a large skua, measuring 5058 cm long with a 125140 cm wingspan. The adult is streaked greyish brown, with a black cap, while the juvenile is a warmer brown and unstreaked below. Its tail is short and blunt. The flight is direct and powerful. The Brown Skua's call is a harsh hah-hah-hah-hah; quacking and croaking noises have also been heard. Distinguishing this skua from the other North Atlantic skuas (Arctic Skua, Pomarine Skua and Long-tailed Skua) is relatively straightforward. The Herring Gull size, massive barrel chest and white wing flashes of this bird are distinctive even at a distance. It is sometimes said to give the impression of a Common Buzzard. Identification of this skua is only complicated when it is necessary to distinguish it from the closely related large southern-hemisphere skuas. Some authorities still regard the Great Skua as conspecific with some of these southern skuas, and as a group they have sometimes been separated in the genus Catharacta, although currently this is not commonly followed.

The Great Skua breeds in Iceland, Norway, the Faroe Islands and the Scottish islands, with a few on mainland Scotland and in the northwest of Ireland. It breeds on coastal moorland and rocky islands, usually laying two spotted olive-brown eggs in grass-lined nests. Like other skuas, it will fly at the head of a human or other intruder approaching its nest. Although it cannot inflict serious damage, such an experience with a bird of this size is frightening. It is a migrant, wintering at sea in the Atlantic Ocean and regularly reaching North American waters. Vagrant to Mediterranean countries (e.g. Turkey).

This bird eats mainly fish, seabirds, eggs, carrion, offal, rodents, rabbits and occasionally berries. It will often obtains fish by robbing gulls, terns and even Northern Gannets of their catches. It will also directly attack and kill other seabirds, up to the size of Great Black-backed Gulls. Like most other skua species, it continues this piratical behaviour throughout the year, showing less agility and more brute force than the smaller skuas when it harasses its victims. A common technique is to fly up to a gannet in mid-air and grab it by the wing, so that it stalls and falls into the sea, where the Great Skua then physically attacks it until it surrenders its catch. Due to its size, aggressive nature and fierce defence of its nest, the Great Skua has little to fear from other predators. While fledglings can fall prey to rats, cats or the Arctic Fox, healthy adults are threatened only by greater raptors such as the Golden Eagle and the White-tailed Eagle, and more rarely by the Orca whale.

Source: Wikipedia

Alex99, kinglove, anel, CeltickRanger, Hotelcalifornia, aruntp, ramthakur, Ingrid1, pierrefonds, cobra112 has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2013-08-14 7:09]

Hi Peter.
What a sweet scene taken at amazing lowest POV. Expressive poses of the birds, attractive curve of the ground and nice smooth sky with light clouds. I like timing a lot as well as exposure of the image. Well done and TFS.

Hi Peter.
很漂亮的海鳥 照的清晰美麗
尤其是展開翅膀那一刻被你捕獲 眼睛都很傳神
真是美麗極了 構圖也很漂亮
背景的雲也很美麗 謝謝分享

hallo Peter
Mooie opname van deze boeven
dit zijn toch die ei rovers
super opname ,leuke compositie zo op de heuvel
scherpte en kleuren zijn weer prachtig
bedankt gr lou

Hello Peter,
Great composition,excellent sharpness and clarity.

  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2013-08-14 11:01]

Hello Peter.
A lovely photo, and both a posing so beautifully. Lovely timed capture. Very strong composition with good colour and tone throughout the image.
Regards Siggi

  • Great 
  • tree Silver Star Critiquer [C: 28 W: 0 N: 14] (8)
  • [2013-08-14 13:12]

Hi Peter,
I do like the POV and tha action of the birds. Very good photo. TFS.

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2013-08-14 13:24]

Hello Peter,
Iceland seems to be a most interesting country for nature-photographer. Again a well presented shot showing birds I didn't know until now. I like your point of view from below and the vivid expression of these big Skuas.
Interesting note too.
Thanks a lot

Hello Peter,
I just return from a short holiday at the Black See and in Bucegi Mountains - Romania.
Once again a wonderful photo taken from a very good angle and POV. Exceptional quality....Excellent details. Outstanding colors and perfect focus.
You managed perfect this composition. In the next weeks I will post some photos with birds living around the Black See coast.
Thanks for sharing!

Hello Peter

Excellent photo of these large seabird species
that with the POV you choose and the action
of the birds it gives dynamism to the image,
great focus, sharpness, and details, TFS


Hello Mr.Peter,
Natural picture of this couple.Natural moment.Natural colour and nice POV.
Thanks for sharing,
Kind regards,

this is a great photograph mostly because it is taken in lower angle to frame the species in action very dramatic. good work.

This candid image shows that these birds from Iceland are obviously angry, Peter. You have mentioned their aggressive behaviour in your note.
Very impressive capture.

Dear Peter,
A wonderful capture of the aggressive Skua, and I add your work to my theme "Animals' Behaviour".
I am extremely pleased to see this wonderful photo from you. When we were in Antarctica, they stole eggs from the penguins, fought over a baby bird in mid air, and we were advised to wear sunglasses to protect our eyes from the skua's ferocious attacks dive bombing us!
The sharp details and natural colours make it a true pleasure to view your work, and I add it to my favorites.

Thanks for sharing.
Warm greetings from the Tzaneen Dam in Limpopo, South Africa

  • Great 
  • iti Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 577 W: 0 N: 650] (7939)
  • [2013-08-15 10:07]

Hi Peter,
Great image those Great Skua with excellent sharpness details.
Regards Jiri.

Hi Peter,

The birds are well placed in the frame. The point of view is showing the details and colours of the Great Skua. The good luminosity is bringing out the colours. Have a nice day.


  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2013-08-16 12:08]

Hi Peter,simply fantastic,what a moment,what a pose,what a atmosphere,you were lucky to be there and great to take another spectacular pic from Iceland,very very well done!Have a nice weekend and thanks,Luciano

excellent scene and photo shot!
regards Peter

hello Peter
what a splendid composition and capture.
great colour and moment.
best wishes,

  • Great 
  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2013-08-18 16:56]

Hello Peter
very pretty and very nice moment seeing these skua. Exciting view parallel to the yes. The colours and details are well seen and in its best view.
I like their action and behaviour too.
Nice moment to treasure.


Ciao Peter. Perfect DIOF razor details and excellent details against the blurred BG. Vry well done.


Amazing scene Peter! Great photo too! Excellent composition, wonderful lighting and good sharpness.

Boa noite Peter
Amazing pose of these two.Great POV and composition.Wonderful colours and details.Thank You.
Have a good evening!
Best regards

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