Great skuas are tremendously powerful birds and the northern isles of Gt Britain holds a substantial breeding population. Here they raise their chicks on the extensive moorland, protecting them fearlessly from trespassing sheep, other skuas and humans. One of their main food sources is the vast number of other seabirds using the steep cliffs of the islands as a summer home. We watched some of these pirates harassing gannets fishing offshore, forcing these much larger birds to disgorge their catch so they could pilfer the spoils. But the more sinister and ruthless side of the Bonxie was to be witnessed amongst the throng of auks nesting on Marwick Head on Mainland Orkney. Here they would cruise along the cliff face ever watchful for unattended chicks or vulnerable lone birds fishing close inshore. Once a victim had been chosen there was no escape. Impressive birds, but deadly.
Powerful and Fast
Harassing Gannets Offshore at Hoy
Cruising the Cliff Face
And this is what they are after, some unfortunate auk caught unawares.