Friday, October 21, 2011

Yet another windy spell has seen the majority of attention again cast seawards. Although slow at times, there have been some good spells and we're now taking some species for granted that usually get a lot more attention. Pomarine Skuas in particular are passing in unprecedented numbers. Up until this year there had only been about 200 of these bulky skuas logged off Bardsey, whereas 55 have already been seen this October alone. Perhaps an abundance of rodents, muted as a reason for so many Short-eared Owls earlier in the week, has also benefited breeders in Northern Russia. However many adult birds are also passing so perhaps weather conditions are perfect for pushing birds inshore. On the subject of Skua food, two different Arctic Skuas were watched pursuing migrant Starlings across the Sound, one of which caught a Stag which was lucky to escape. Although they frequently take birds on the breeding grounds, a quick search has found no mention of passage birds taking other birds at sea.

Continuing on the subject of Arctic Skua food, we found two Lapland Buntings in the Northwest Fields yesterday. This is one of the species found in the pellets of Arctic Skuas at their breeding grounds in the Canadian Northwest Territories. A massive 81% of pellets examined contained passerine bones. (c) Richard Brown

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