The Skuas, or Parasitic Gulls, pass our coasts in the autumn on their way south from their breeding stations in the north. In fine weather they keep far out at sea, and it is only after exceptionally severe gales that some of them are seen on the coasts.
The Great Skua, a very powerful and courageous bird, has nesting places on the Shetland Isles, at Unst and Foula, where they are now preserved, or they would soon have become exterminated by collectors of birds’ skins and eggs.
All the Skuas kill and devour other birds, and are greedy feeders upon carrion, and will chase and rob other Gulls of their fish.
The Great Skua is included by Mr. H. Mathias in his list. He saw a specimen in Tracy’s shop at Pembroke. Sir Hugh Owen informs us that it is always to be seen in Goodwick Bay in a good herring season ; that he has noticed it to be a very bold and savage bird, and that he has shot it on Goodwick sands while eating carrion.
It is dark fulvous in plumage, has some golden hackles on the throat, is the largest of the Skua family, and may be at once known from all the other species through the absence in its tail of any elongated central feathers. The Skuas in some years continue in southern waters until the spring is well advanced. On May 28, 1883, “hundreds of Skua Gulls” were noticed off the Tuskar Rock, opposite St. Bride’s Bay; more on 31st; while others were observed on June 7th, 8th, and even on June 22nd (Migration Report, 1883).