Subantarctic Skua

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With it’s murderous looking beak, my thoughts went back to my first encounter of an Arctic skua when we were visiting Iceland.  My impression then was to stay well clear of these predatory looking birds.  We were at Jokulsarlon Glacier and the Arctic terns were having a tough time vigorously defending their newly hatched chicks against these oportunistic feeders.

It was a unexpected surprise to see this unusual visitor – though of the southern hemisphere variety, Subantartica skua – Catharacta antarctica.  There it was nonchalantly paddling in one of the ponds in the Cape of Good Hope reserve.  I suspect that the recent strong gales had blown it onshore but soon it will be lured back out to sea to return to it’s marine diet.  It feeds mainly on fish, squid and crustaceans.  Impressive though – that fully extended wingspan had powerful muscle lift.

 

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