Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Long-tailed Skua- ID Summary

Andy Stoddart has kindly summarised the identification features on this bird:
Overall slim and ‘slight’ structure
Body ‘deepest’ around the chest, not the belly
Long and slim ‘rear end’behind the wings
Wings very long and slender, narrow-based with a long ‘arm’ and very slim ‘hand’
Bill small and short
Projecting central tail feathers long and blunt
Overall ‘cold’ grey plumage hues with no ‘warmth’
Pale on the underparts concentrated on the central breast, contrasting with a darker upper breast band
Extensive barring on axillaries and undertail coverts
Minimal upperwing flash but extensive underwing flash
A first for Beddington and also a second for Surrey (if accepted).


StourbridgeRantBoy said...

Nicely summarised, pictures help - a quick flyby and you probably wo'nt get much more than 'slim, bouyant flight, delicate (dove-like) head and only the outer 2 primaries showing pale shafts and it's been 20 years since i have seen one!

Laurie -

Peter Alfrey said...

I normally look for the amount of white on the upperwing when trying to confirm a long-tailed - usually looking down or across at them from a boat or headland- not seeing them from below :-) Always learning.

StourbridgeRantBoy said...

Pete - i had an interesting (for me) learning curve in the mid-80s. I had just received my copy of BB and there was a little artice, reprinted from Dutch Birding with regard to the 2 pale primary shafts and how useful in Seawatching at a distance it could be. I duly noted and thought nothing more of it. A few days later and i was on the Scillies for my annual mid-Oct rarity thrash. First afternoon after docking and a walk to Peninnis Head on a report of a party of SnowBunts. We must have been about 1/2 a mile away and my mate picked up what looked like a corpse lying on the ground just on visuals. He said he thought it could be a dead Skua sp, upon that he said 'Oh the breeze has just caught one of the wings and there is a little bit of White. I quoted the article and said that it is a small flash and it might be a LTS and if it is it should only show etc etc. We make our way, picked up the bird which was a superb specimen c/w 2 pale shafts. At the 'Cressa' log We shouted out 'LTS @ PHead' and was asked 'any details'? To which we held the moribund individual up! It was kept in the fridge and was visited by many for a closer look and sketched by a few for record purposes - it now resides, stuffed, at my mates house....I relate this story in order to illustrate attention to small detail.

ATB Laurie -

Peter Alfrey said...

:-) Good story.