zaterdag 7 juli 2012

Oh, inland Arctic Skua? Where? Veenoordkolk of course!

Piet Schermerhorn strikes again! Around 14:00 yesterday I saw an alert on my phone from : ''Kleine Jager, Veenoordkolk''. Whaat?? Arctic Skua in my county? And of course, the Veenoordkolk was again the place to be! Piet Schermerhorn had found this bird and he even managed to take photos. The photos showed a beautiful pale morph adult Arctic Skua. It didn't take long for me and my dad to get in the car straight to the Skua. First we had to do a quick delivery of groceries at my grandparents but afterwards we were ready to go!

In the mean time - while we were driving near Wilp already - Peter Lindeboom gave me a call saying that he had just seen the Skua at the exact same place around 15:15. My dad and I arrived there a little bit later. No sign of the Skua yet but the search had just begun. We walked northwards along the dike and I scanned the water and the land surrounding the 'kolken' to see if I could find it sat on the ground. I did not find the Skua but I did see an adult summer Yellow-legged Gull, a nice species in my county; Veenoordkolk/Teugse Kolk is probably also the best place to see those. 

Then all of a sudden I saw the Arctic Skua coming from the north, hunting low above the Teugse Kolk. My dad was searching somewhere else but also saw it straight away. It landed in the water of the Teugse Kolk, showing really well through the telescope. Another birder, Huub ter Haar, who had just arrived, observed the bird together with us. Then it decided to take off and do some gull-chasing, because that's what they're good at! What an amazing sight to see a skua actively hunting, and that inland! It became quite mobile and started crossing the IJssel and a bit later it started circling higher and higher and seem to dissappear to the north. Just before that I called Arno ten Hoeve - who lives practically next to the Veenoord/Teugse Kolk if he had already heard the news. At that moment he was standing on a bridge north of us and saw the Arctic Skua above him. His first thought he was seeing a Peregrine, as I was pointing directions, but that was because I hadn't told him yet the Arctic Skua was a pale morph, haha!

We thought we had lost it out of sight after that, that it was gone for good, but then suddenly we saw the Arctic Skua land on the Veenoordkolk behind us! So it was back! At that moment we were the only birdwatchers but later that afternoon/evening many more birders came to twitch this great bird.

It is something like the 4th record for the county, but those were far back in the 90s. So I'm really happy with this bird! It was just in the province of Overijssel, otherwise I could've added it to my Gelderland list on which I already have Pomarine Skua and Long-tailed Skua:)

Now something else of interest: the age
Arctic Skua (Stercorarius parasiticus) ©Tammo Meijer

As you can see from the photos of Tammo (thanks for those great pics dad!), the bird has retained some pale-barred (greater and median) underwing coverts. This makes this bird a third-summer (4th calender-year) Arctic Skua. (As stated in Skuas & Jaegers by Klaus Malling Olsen & Hans Larsson). 

©Tammo Meijer

And here's my share (of less quality haha):
Third-summer Arctic Skua (Stercorarius parasiticus)

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