GRC Blog

Welcome to the GRC Recorders pages. This blog provides details on all the relevant news of Glamorgan’s scarcer birds, plus all BBRC & WRP decisions that affect us locally. It will also be used to document the status and occurrence of these scarcer species and we welcome contributions from anyone with photographs, artwork or documentation of rarities past, present and future. The GRC also welcomes all seawatching news from around Glamorgan and news of passage migrants in spring & autumn, uncommon birds in our area and unusual behaviour.

All visitors are welcome. You must first register by sending an email to before you can contribute. An invite will be sent to your email address. Blog content will be strictly moderated. Access to pages and downloads are available to everyone. All photographs on this blog remain the property of the originator.
If you would like to use photos, please arrange permission beforehand.

The Glamorgan Rarities Committee, in conjunction with the Glamorgan Bird Club & Gower Wildlife , have agreed to co-operate with the Welsh Ornithological Society in the sharing of bird records & photographs in the interest of keeping accurate records and to promote birdwatching in North, Mid & South Wales.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Pomarine Skua still present at Whiteford

I was delighted to find that the Pomarine Skua found by Dai and Rob yesterday was still present this morning during a flying visit. It seems that its preferred targets are the Black-headed Gulls of which there were many feeding in the channel amongst the other Gulls. It showed well between the lighthouse and Berges Island but is very mobile.
I found that it was happy to be approached to about 30m but it does seem to have only one leg and sits down rather than standing on one leg and may be a little wary because of this? There were very good numbers of Gulls in many different feeding flocks around the mouth of the estuary and if their numbers stay high I'm guessing this bird may stick around for a bit? Hope so because it's a real star! Congrats to Dai and Rob on a very nice find!
The upperwing white patch is very striking and should separate this bird from the Gileston Pom found by Steve Hinton on 16th December. Plumage seems duller, more wintry, much paler vent and one leg would suggest this but a lot might have happened between Gileston and Whiteford?


Barry Stewart said...

Great Photos Mark of a very interesting bird. Although it shows good Pomarine structure, with very broad-based wings and heavy-looking body, plumage-wise your photos seem to suggest this might be an Arctic Skua? Note the limited black below the gape, bill not really that heavy, but more importantly with pale feathering at the base, breast-band looks soft and there's only a faint hint of carpal crescent. Not 100% sure but I'm inclined towards Arctic! I'll do a little research when I get a chance but it would be interesting to hear what others have to say...

David Gilmore said...

I tend to agree with Barry, the bill shape and colour-tone doesn't seem right for Pom. Poms have a much heavier bill appearance and tend to be paler at the base. Arctic tend to show a narrower all dark-grey bill, as this individual does. The cap doesn't appear as extensive as Pom either - as BS states showing white feathering around the base. Although this individual doesn't have a clear carpal crescent, neither do a lot of adult Poms. The carpal crescent is much more prominent in more younger stages of Pom Skua. The breast-band looks paler, however these can overlap in colour and thickness due to moult. Arctic & Pom are difficult even for experienced birders and this is an interesting individual. You say it was attacking B-hG, was it trying to make them disgorge or was it actually attacking the bird? Arctic tend to do the former, whilst Pom do the latter.
Overall the jizz seems to suggest Arctic rather than Pom.

Martyn Hnatiuk said...

Sorry Mark but i have to agree with the previous two statements. Its not often we get to see a Skua up close and the face pattern and bill match Arctic rather than Pom. Also as it only has one leg i would perhaps suggest that the puffed out underbelly is due to the leg breakage dammage under the feathers jutting them out somewhat. It is very difficult to seperate the 2 adults [without spoons] and i,ve never been confident enough to call one and i,ve seen a few "maybes" over the last 2 years

PS - anyone got a photo of the Kenfig juv Skua from 10ish years ago, as i,m still not sure of that one [passed as a Pom after being called Long Tailed and Arctic] and i,d like another look.

Mark Hipkin said...

Crikey, I was hoping Santa would work a bit of magic overnight but this is beyond my wildest dreams!!
Seriously though apologies for not replying sooner but since I uploaded these pics I just haven't had any time, still haven't really!
I can see now what everyone is saying about this bird looking like an Arctic - plumage wise. To me the bill is not too small for a Pomarine but the tone is not right. It is a heavy looking bird in the field and photos. It was robbing B-h Gulls not hunting them. I can't offer any more than that for now but will give a fuller account tomorrow.
It certainly looks better for Arctic than Pom

Barry Stewart said...

To be fair to Dai he said he wasn’t sure what species it was and I called it as Pom, mainly based on the jizz and the wing bases being wider than the tail is long, but clearly this feature in the new Collins guide does not apply to all birds. Marks clearer shots show several indisputable Arctic features and not for the first time a skua has caused a few id problems. Aren't skuas just great ;o) Now time to get out and burn off all those excess Christmas calories...