Long-tailed Skua – 1894

BUFFON’S SKUA, Stercorarius parasiticus

This, the smallest of all the Skuas, also called the Long-tailed Skua, from the extreme length of the two central pointed tail feathers, appears, for the main part, to accomplish its migrations along the eastern shores of the kingdom, as its appearance upon our western coasts are so irregular as to be quite accidental.

In the stormy autumn of 1891 a number of these Skuas were blown into the Bristol Channel, and many were obtained upon the opposite coasts of Devon and Somerset, and some, no doubt, put in at Milford Haven, but we are without record of any.

The only county specimen of which we have knowledge is a young bird in the plumage of its first autumn that was sent to us for examination by Mr. C. Jefferys, of Tenby, where it had been shot while flying over the South Sands one day in the autumn of 1889 or 1890. We were able at once to decide that it was a young Buffon’s Skua, from the distinguishing test furnished by Mr. Howard Saunders in his very useful Manual of British Birds. He points out that the “readiest distinction, at any age, is to be found in the shafts of the primaries. These are all ‘white in the Arctic (Richardson’s) Skua, whereas in the Long-tailed Skua the two outer ones only on each side are white, the rest being dusky.”

Our friend, Mr. W. S. M. D’Urban, of Exmouth, possesses an example of Buffon’s Skua, from the coast of South Wales, one that was shot in January, 1892, at Rumney, near Cardiff. All the Skuas are carnivorous, and besides feeding on fish, will greedily devour dead animals, and will strike down and eat other birds.

A specimen of Buffon’s Skua, obtained some years ago in Somerset, had actually struck down a Ring Dove, a bird as large as itself, upon which it was feeding, when it was disturbed and shot by a keeper.

Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands

More about the Long-tailed Skua in Pembrokeshire