|Great Skua Catharacta skua
(aka Stercorarius skua)
The Great Skua breeds near the sea in northern Scotland, Iceland, Faeroes and in arctic and sub-arctic areas of northern Europe. Outside the breeding season it spends almost all its time at sea and ranges from the north Atlantic to the coast of Brazil.
|They breed on rocky islands and on open coastal moorland where the nest is a mere scrape in the ground. Photo 4 shows a juvenile sitting on the nest.
During the breeding season, the adults defend the nest furiously and will fly at anyone rash enough to approach too closely.
|They feed mainly on fish which are either caught on the surface or scavenged from fishing boats, etc.. More famously, they steal fish from other sea-birds and, on St Kilda, at least, seem to concentrate on stealing from gannets. Photo 5 shows a Great Skua forcing a Gannet to drop the fish it was carrying back to the nest and photo 6 shows the two birds on the surface where the fish landed.|
|It is a large, heavy bird about the size of a Herring Gull with a thick-set head and neck. In flight it looks dark apart from the white patches on its primaries visible from above and below.|