(taken with a 500mm lens on a Nikon D2x – focal length 750mm – I had seen this adult dive bomb some walkers further up the footpath. With my camera set up ready I approached slowly and was able to capture this single image as the adult came screaming toward me. This was the only occasion in a month that I was dive bombed by an adult and I would actively encourage other photographers to never attempt an image of this behaviour with anything other than a telephoto. If a skua does dive bomb you then move away slowly as it not only wastes valuable energy for the bird, it also leaves the nest/chick vulnerable to predation).
As you can see from the image/text above this is a blog on some great skua images which I captured during a month long trip to Shetland in 2008. It’s also an opportunity to inform anyone who might be interested that a feature of my great skua images (all different to these ones posted) are published as a 6 page feature in this months’ BBC Wildlife magazine with text provided by renowned expert on all things avian, Dominic Couzins.
My visit to Shetland was brought about, in its entirety, by the incessant witterings of my good friend and fellow pro Danny Green who, in between breaks for doughnuts, fags and pig-like snoring, would usually spend his days extolling the virtues of this most spectacular group of islands. ‘You gotta go’ he would grunt ‘…cracking place’. High praise indeed! All joking aside however I am tremendously grateful that he did because he introduced me, earlier than would have occurred naturally, to what would become the UK destination that I cherish above all others.
(adults displaying to other adults passing overhead)
Over the last two years I have now spent more than 4 months exploring these islands but there is one place that stands alone for me, Hermaness NNR, where the majority of these images were captured. It is a place of magnificent beauty, of unbridled wildness and isolation and I am thrilled that I will be returning there again for another month during this September and October. At this time gales between Force 8 and 10 are a daily routine, rocks are been blown up the precipitous cliffs and waterfalls curl back on themselves, beaten back by storms surging in unbroken from the North Atlantic. By now all of the smaller seabirds have left, as have the inexplicably few visitors, and only the gannets, the skuas and the odd sheep remain.
This only adds to the sense of isolation and it is in these places, at these times, when I get the greatest delight from what I do. And if I haven’t sold the place to you then I know a man who can!!
(don’t expect to see much sunshine though)
Note to Niall and Paul – Please excuse the indulgence of this 6 image blog!