Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2007 16:54:13 -0400
Reply-To: Joshua Spence <spencejoshua@BELLSOUTH.NET>
Sender: Georgia Birders Online <GABO-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
From: Joshua Spence <spencejoshua@BELLSOUTH.NET>
Subject: South Polar Skua - 6/14/07
Theresa, Seth, and I have just returned from our camping trip at Woodring
Branch, Carters Lake. I'll do a separate report on that later. I wanted to
let everyone know that the skua was still flying there in the same general
area around 2pm. I talked to Paul Jastram who said that the bird has been
there for at least a week. He said "At first it seemed injured so they
tried to catch it but weren't able to. The bird disappeared before he could
make a positive ID." It may have blown in from Tropical Storm Barry.
Earl Horn and I were discussing the chance of its survival due to its
presence in such an unfamiliar habitat. I actually witnessed it drop down
and eat something today. Just before this it chased a Fish Crow, that was
foraging on the bank. It seems healthy and is doing the same thing it would
be doing in the open ocean, so maybe it will make it.
I kayaked out to the bird this morning. I got within about twenty feet of
the it. It allowed me to get some close-ups. It was neat being on the water
with such a rare inland species. The bird stayed a few minutes then took
off. I hope everyone gets a chance to come see it before it decides to move
There's been some discusion on whether or not it could be a different
species of skua. I'm no authority on seabirds, and on Tuesday I almost
dismissed it as a rare immature gull until I checked out some websites.
Over the last three days I've got to view it several times at close range.
I've read that plumages of these birds are highly variable and I noticed
this while looking at photos on the web. This bird (in good light) doesn't
have the dark hood that a Great shows(or should show), in fact it's
forehead seemed lighter than it does in the illustrations of most field
guides I checked. The bird also (in good light) has a slight light nape.
It doesn't have any heavy mottling and doesn't seem to have as heavy a body
as the Great (judging by photos). At times when the bird is on the wing it
looks quite dark, but on the water looks blonde. I think it's a South Polar
but whatever the final word is, I'm glad it showed up in Georgia and
especially at Carter's Lake.
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