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Birds > Charadriiformes > South polar skua Stercorarius maccormicki

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I set a photo gallery of Great skua not so long ago, it was after my visit to Iceland. It was not so easy to photograph this bird there. And what a surprise, in Antarctica there were many of South polar skua, especially among hundreds of penguins. Every time when great skuas flew around, penguin colonies were alerted right away. Single skuas sat among penguins and they looked like taking a short nap. Nothing could be further from the truth. They waited for watchful penguin parents to be lulled actually watching them closely. For an individual skua it was not so easy to steal a chick out of the nest. A penguin with a sharp beak, much bigger than a skua, while ferociously defending their offspring is a high risk for the skua. When a pair of great skuas launched a coordinated attack, the life of a young penguin was already a foregone conclusion. They approached a nest on both sides and then a loud voice of a terribly nervous adult penguin which was aware of the danger could be heard. One skua grabbed a tail of the penguin who took care of the young, while the other grabbed a chick out of its nest and took it on its first and last flight. The flight was short, because the skua landed a few meters away. Together with other skuas they tore apart and ate their prey in front of its parent. Literally all it took several seconds, but I could not miss this incident as I watched skuas closely. What is most important I was able to take a series of sharp images of this dynamic scene of abduction of the little penguin. Skuas were nesting nearby, and they had food in abundance so long as there were small penguins in the colonies. As for great skuas, they should be admired as well. I think they have a lot of respect to each other. When a skua was “visited” by one or two other great skuas they were welcomed with wings solemnly extended and with a loud cry. I took hundreds of photos of great skuas, including those with dramatic scenes of the chick abduction. You can find there their spectacular welcome scenes and the flights over the penguins rookery, which scared penguins so much. Unfortunately, being so occupied with shooting I did not record skuas’ welcome cries. Probably photos will always prevail over recordings, though I admit, in this case where I have already such a large portfolio of images, it is rather a bit of a shame...

Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki
Stercorarius maccormicki