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.