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Blagdon Lake Birds

Parasitic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus

(Very rare PM)


Arctic Skua, Kolgrafafjodur, Iceland, July 2008.Arctic Skua, Kolgrafafjodur, Iceland, July 2008.


  1. One, no details, 1903 (ref. Palmer & Ballance).* See note 1 below.
  2. One, no details, 2nd Sep. 1914 (per D. Carr).*
  3. One, no details, 23rd Sep. 1923 (per D. Carr & ref. Palmer & Ballance).
  4. One, pale phase, 17th Aug. 1982 (J.S. Rowe).
  5. Two, probably dark phase, 17th Sep. 2006 (N.R. Milbourne).
  6. One, probably a juvenile dark phase, 6th Oct. 2021 (N.R. Milbourne).

Note 1: Date given in Birds at Blagdon Lake 1963-1983 as 1908, probably due to a typo.

Donald Carr reported in 1914 under the heading 'List of Birds' "Richardson's Skua observed on Blagdon Lake, September 2nd, travelling from east to west, towards the Bristol Channel." The date and detail of this record seem to be acceptable to me. Carr wrote in 1923 "I saw for the first time here Richardson's Skua, it was being molested by about 20 Green Plover, no doubt they took it to be a bird of prey, it passed within 3 yards of me, it was going Westward, this species is not often seen so far South." It is odd that Carr reported having not seen this species at the lake previously in the light of the 1914 record. One can only conclude that someone else saw it and reported it to Carr.

Simon Isgar rang me and told me there were two Arctic Skuas Stercorarius parasiticus at Chew Valley Lake. I asked him if he’d identified them and he told me two unknown guys had told him what they were. A little while later Simon rang to say they were flying towards Blagdon, so I drove to the Lodge in a big hurry with my camera... I saw them flying towards the dam and away to the west at a height of about 200 feet. I took some pictures and watched them in my telescope until they were lost to sight.

The most recent sighting was of a bird flying west along the shoreline at Green Lawn and watched from the road. It headed towards the roosting gulls in front of the Lodge and put them all up before flying off. 


Bibliography (sources of information):

  1. Chadwick, P.J. (ed.). Avon Bird Report, 1982. Avon Ornithological Group.
  2. Palmer E.M. & Ballance D.K. 1968. The Birds of Somerset. London.
  3. Rose, Dr H.E. (ed.). Avon Bird Report, 2006. Avon Ornithological Group.
Nigel Milbourne © 2009-23. All Rights Reserved.