04 January 2013

London bus Arctic Skuas and an exceptional Marsh Harrier

Recoveries of Arctic Skuas in the southern hemisphere are rather unusual, with the furthest south being five reports of birds found in South Africa. The map below shows where our Arctic Skuas have been found, taken from the BTO's online ringing report.

So whilst the report of one picked up sick in Plettenburg Bay, in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, on 8th December was notable, the fact that another was found dead less than 10km away on 24th December is quite remarkable. One can only wonder what weather conditions had caused these birds to be found so close to each other so far from home.

Even more bizarre is that both of these birds were ringed as chicks on Foula, Shetland. These weren't unfortunate lost immatures bird either, having been ringed in 1993 and 1995!

Of equal note was the report of a wing-tagged Marsh Harrier in Portugal on Christmas Day. Seen alive and well, this Norfolk-ringed bird (seen just after ringing below) is just the second to be 'recovered' in Portugal, following a Suffolk-ringed bird found dead there in 1986. Check out where others have been found online.

Thanks to Phil Littler for the harrier news and photo of the team in action.

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