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Pomarine Skua - PolarjoStercorarius pomarinus
Bredstjärtad Labb - Mellemkjove - Leveäpyrstökihu  - Labbe Pomarin

Pomarine Skua is a relatively scarce, though regular spring migrant at Skogsøy with a peak sometime in the second half of May. Large numbers can be seen under strong onshore winds but this is a relatively rare event. Often this species comes past at close range following the coast and the sight of these fantastic birds with their remarkable tails is a real experience. As with all locations the numbers passing vary enormously and it seems only a small fraction of the population happen to pass Skogsøy - this species is probably of more birding interest than any monitoring studies at this locality.

It seems that Skogsøy gets as many poms as most other places and seems to do better than Utsira, at least during the spring. It even appears to out-perform the Shetland Isles where in most springs only singles are recorded (there have been more than 100 individuals recorded annually there during only four years). Although I may have been lucky I have recorded this species on approximately half of the "in season" visits.

The following diagram shows the maximum recorded in a given three day period (green line, scale on right hand axis). In order to give an idea of the frequency of observation observer effort is presented as the blue line (number of visits) and the orange lines (number of days the species was recorded). More comprehensive data is available on the Skogsøy downloads page.

Pomarine Skua - maximum counts

The species is predominantly a spring migrant at Skogsøy with generally few noted in the autumn. One of the best days to see this species is 17 May - the Norwegian national holiday; this holiday is taken very seriously by the Norwegians so it is not often that I find other birders at Skogsøy on this particular date.....

Pomarine Skuas populations are poorly monitored
throughout their lifecycle; spending the breeding season wandering the far north and the non-breeding season living a pelagic lifestyle out in the Atlantic.

One thing I have noted is that this species often tends to pass early in the morning, and on days when Arctic Skua are also passing there regularly seems to be something of a changeover around 0800 after which few "poms" are seen. This shows up well in the diagram below, only days where both Pomarine and Arctic Skua passed have been included. Why is this and do the two species really have markedly differing migration strategies? It should be noted that the amount of data this diagram is based on is somewhat limited.

Pomarine and Arctic Skua timing


Record:
The record day count is 80 individuals (late May).

Weather:
There seems to be a slight tendency for more to be seen during headwinds, but they can also be seen during southerly winds.

References:
Tveit, B.O., Mobakken, G. og Bryne, O. 2004 Fugler og fuglafolk på Utsira. Utsira Fuglestasjon
Ellis,P., Harvey, P.,Heubeck,M.,Okill, D., Osborn, K.,Pennington,M.,Riddington, R. Birds of Shetland. 2004.

Following pictures taken on 17 May 2008 from a survey vessel NNW of Shetland Islands:
Pomarine Skua in flight Dark phase pomarine Skua


The following book provides advice on identification, details of migration patterns and more. Highly recommended.



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