The Antarctic skua (Catharacta maccormicki)
is the size of a largish gull. They nest all around continental
antarctica and breed into the deep south. They are excellent
fliers and have occasionally been sighted deep in the interior hundreds
of miles from anything other than ice. One of their feeding techniques
is to chase and bully other birds into regurgitating the contents
of their crop, a strategy successful with some species that are
in themselves excellent fliers.
They tend to have a reputation as being fierce
and aggressive birds, which is somewhat unfair. I see them more
as characters who stick up for their own corner and look after their
own - no more or less than humans do.
Often a visitors first sight of a skua is at a
penguin colony where they usually are nesting nearby. They hang
around as a dark presence looking for unguarded eggs or weak or
isolated chicks to prey on, which is a very productive means of
finding food, but does their reputations no good at all.
Paul Ward - Pentax equipment, 100mm
lens, 35mm film, K64.
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