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A persue to juvenile Skuas identification
Written by Menno van Duijn
Strong winds from the west brings seabirds closer to the mainland of the Netherlands and brings seabird loving birders to the shores. From the months August to September one can expect to see even four species of skuas with these conditions in a single day. The only problem is that most of the time they are observed at a fair distance and a good telescope is a necessary tool.
Adult birds are striking and can be a challenge but even more challenging are the juveniles that look very similar to inexperienced birders. Therefore we summed-up some of the key features of this plumage to look for.
One of the biggest pitfalls in our experience is to identify skuas based on their jizz (size, structure). It’s tempting to identify skuas that fly to far to see any plumage features based on their jizz. If you put the skuas in line you would say that Great Skuas is the largest, followed by Pomarine Skua, Arctic Skua and Long-tailed Skua being the smallest. But we experienced that in the field birds that were identified as Pomarine Skuas even turned out the be Long-tailed Skuas and visa versa looking back at the photos.
Best sites to observe skuas during autumn storms are Westkapelle, Maasvlakte, Scheveningen, Katwijk, IJmuiden, Camperduin and the Wadden Islands.
Great Skua (Stercorarius skua)
Photo Jan Dekker (left) and André van Dam (right).
Pomarine Skua (Stercorarius pomarinus)
Photos light morph by Piet de Poorter (top), intermediate morph by Rene van Rossum (middle) and dark morph by Danny Bregman (bottom).
Parasitic Skua (Stercorarius parasiticus)
Photos brown morph by Rene van Rossum (top), grey morph by Gerard Visser (bottom).
Long-tailed Skua (Stercorarius longicaudus)
Photos light morph by Peter Soer (top), intermediate morph by Kris de Rouck (center left), Tomas Luiten (center right), dark morph by Jan van Holten (bottom left) and Karel Hoogteylingen (bottom right).
Many thanks to all the photographers for use of their photos.
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