Great Skua – double close encounter

September 25th 2019

Lis and I were in Assynt during late August 2019 for a couple of weeks. On the 27th while minding my own business, and simply looking out to sea from above Achmelvich campsite, I had an amicable and close encounter with a Great Skua. It alighted a few yards from where I was sitting but soon joined me only 2 feet away on the same rock. So close in fact I was able to read and photograph the number on its leg ring. It stayed by me for at least 15 minutes and in fact it was I that left as the midges became unbearable.

Three days later, while once more sitting on a rock this time above Clachtoll cottage, I was again approached by a Skua. This one repeatedly tried to land on my head, attracted, so my wife assumed, by a balding pate that resembled a shiny white rock! Eventually it landed alongside me where again I was able to read the number on its leg ring…and yes, the same bird! This time it was a bit too attracted to some of my camera gear so I’m afraid it was encouraged to move on.

Details from the ring were forwarded to the British Trust for Ornithology who have since returned information relating to said bird…..

Ringing Scheme: London Ring Number: MA20923 Species of bird: Great Skua (Stercorarius skua)

This bird was ringed by Bache Shearwood & Mcshane as age nestling, sex unknown on 23-Jul-2010 time unknown at Eilean nan Ron, Highland, UK

OS Map reference NC6465 accuracy 0, – co-ordinates 58deg 32min N -4deg -20min W accuracy 0.

They are huge that close!

Paul Burnett

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