Long-tailed Skua – 2006

Stercorcarius longicaudus – SGIWEN LOSTFAIN – Scarce autumn migrant

The Long–tailed Skua breeds in the Arctic and sub Arctic, wintering at sea mostly south of the equator.

This species was added to the Pembrokeshire list when Mathew (1894) recorded an immature shot at Tenby in the autumn of 1889 or 1890. Some 90 years elapsed before the second one was noted, an adult flying past Strumble Head on the 9th September 1980. Since then it has been recorded each autumn at Strumble Head in variable numbers. Just one was seen in 1993 and at the other extreme a total of 74 in 1991, 18 of them on the 15th September, with a mean of 13 per annum between 1980 and 2006. 

Total birds – 1980 – 2006, August to October in six day periods.

 Later occurrences were of single birds on the 1st November 1990, 4th November 2005, 14th November 1982, 2nd December 1996 and 3rd December 1999.

Most of the birds seen were juveniles, just 12% were adults. All adults showed the dark lower belly of S. l. longicaudus, the form found in the species’ old world distribution, apart from one seen on the 3rd October 1999 which exhibited the all pale underparts characteristic of S.l. pallescens and therefore possibly from Greenland but the validity of there being two sub species is currently uncertain.

Away from Strumble Head, singles were recorded from the Pembroke to Rosslare ferry on the 24th August 1996, The Smalls on the 24th September 1983 and on the 3rd and 9th September 1984, Skokholm on the 4th October 1995, Skomer on the 11th September 1989 and 14th September 1991, Ramsey on the 28th September 1992 and 25th October 2000, North of Ramsey Sound in September 1993 and at St David’s Head on the 20th August 1997 with two there on the 30th October 1999.

There are just two spring records to date, singles passing through Jack Sound on the 2nd May 1995 and 30th April 1996.

Graham Rees. Pembrokeshire County Bird Recorder 1981-2007

More about the Long-tailed Skua in Pembrokeshire

Long-tailed Skua – 1994

Stercorcarius longicaudus – SGIWEN LOSTFAIN – Scarce autumn migrant

Mathew (1894) noted an immature shot at Tenby in the autumn of 1889 or 1890. No more were recorded for nearly a century until one was seen at Strumble Head on 9 September 1980, since when it has been seen annually, with up to 17 per year occurring between 16 August and 14 November. Most of these have been at Strumble Head, but a few have occurred elsewhere, namely a single at the Smalls in September 1983 and two during September 1984, singles at Skomer on 11 September 1989 and 14 September 1991 and at Ramsey on 28 September 1992. Exceptional numbers were seen in 1991, between 7 September and 18 October, when a total of 74 was recorded at Strumble Head, with 18 on 15 September alone.  Juveniles are more frequently seen than adults.

Donovan J.W. & Rees G.H, 1994, Birds of Pembrokeshire

More about the Long-tailed Skua in Pembrokeshire

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

Long-tailed Skua

Stercorcarius longicaudus – SGIWEN LOSTFAIN – Scarce autumn migrant

Long-tailed Skua – 2006

Stercorcarius longicaudus – SGIWEN LOSTFAIN – Scarce autumn migrant The Long–tailed Skua breeds in the Arctic and sub Arctic, wintering at sea mostly south of the equator. This species was added to the Pembrokeshire list when Mathew (1894) recorded an immature shot at Tenby in the autumn of 1889 or 1890. Some 90 years elapsed […]

Long-tailed Skua – 1994

Stercorcarius longicaudus – SGIWEN LOSTFAIN – Scarce autumn migrant Mathew (1894) noted an immature shot at Tenby in the autumn of 1889 or 1890. No more were recorded for nearly a century until one was seen at Strumble Head on 9 September 1980, since when it has been seen annually, with up to 17 per […]

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 […]