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Thread: A Skua in Korea

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Sydney, NSW, Australia

    A Skua in Korea

    Nial Moores has sent me the following and photos and request for ID (Cheers, DJ)Name:  skua_IMG_7261-PS-k.jpg
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Size:  84.6 KB: Name:  skua_IMG_7315-PS-k.jpg
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Size:  35.1 KBName:  skua_IMG_7286-PS-k.jpg
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    I wonder if you would be willing to cast an expert eye on a few low-res
    images of a skua photographed (by Rainer Ertel) sitting on a plastic buoy
    and with open wings, towards the end of August (c 15km offshore from an ROK
    island in the Yellow Sea). South Polar appears to be fairly regular in
    these waters ([May]July-October), though most are seen very poorly. Pretty
    much all of them appear to be dark like the bird in question (and I have
    seen none here as pale as many of the birds in much deeper open Pacific
    waters off Japan), and to show a similar upperwing pattern. As I lack any
    experience of "other" skuas (apart from Great), I was suprised in the field
    by the apparent bulk of the bird in proportion to its rather short but deep

    This is only the second large skua to be photographed in Korean waters so
    will likely receive quite a lot of interest!

  2. #2
    To me this bird looks quite good for a South Polar Skua of the darker end of the intermediate morph. The dark morph is even more Brown Skua-like in colouration but should be colder-toned and only sport a paler nape. This type is - to my experience - the most common one off the North American East coast. This particular bird in Korea shows to me the classic plumage of an intermediate morph South Polar Skua: Dark - almost black - wings and contrastingly paler and diagnostically cold-toned head- and body plumage. I also think that the bulk of the bird and the bill size is not necessarily beyond that of a South Polar Skua.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Sydney, NSW, Australia
    I completely agree. Sent the following to Nial earlier, but wanted to see if there were other views.

    On Fri, 16 Sep 2011 02:48:28 -0700 (PDT), David James
    > Hi Nial,
    > Long time no hear. Thanks for the photso. It is a very interesting bird.
    > The only real options in the indo-pacific are south-polar and brown. My
    > first impression is an adult intermediate-morph South-polar. It is within
    > the realm of darkness to be a Brown skua, but it seems too warm orangey or
    > pinky-buff on the underparts, a distinctive colour of South-polar. From
    > below it would show considerable contrast between underparts and Another
    > important issue is the scattered pale streaks on the scapulars. These are
    > essentially shaft-streaks, are restricted to the scaps, and are also
    > characteristically paler and bolder distally. When Brown skua shows pale
    > streaks on the upperparts, they tend to be over a range of tracts, are
    > uniformly white, and tend to be on the outer margins of the feathers; I
    > hypothesise that they are the equivalent of grey hair.
    > Appears the complete pre-basic moult is well progressed. The timing seems
    > early for SPSK to me, though it is not well-known and apparently quite
    > variable. But I have definately seen less advanced moult in late October.
    > The most difficult/poorly known South-polars (from my perspective) are
    > dark-morph. These don't breed west of the central ross Sea, so don't reach
    > Australia. I have a lot of questions for them if I ever meet them.

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