Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The tasty glove

The southern branch of the Beagle Channel

This morning the weather cleared enough for us to leave Isla Gordon and head back into the southern branch of the Beagle Channel. The black browed albatross and giant petrels took advantage of the heavy winds and effortlessly soared over the waves. Both birds seem very aloof and neither species came close enough to the boat to get a good photo. On the other hand, the Chilean skua flying with the albatrosses, seemed to have no fear of the boat or the people standing on it.

Skuas are a larger relative of the gull family. They are an intelligent and aggressive predatory bird, praying on the eggs and chicks of many bird species, including rockhopper penguins, and are also known to attack other birds in order to bully them into regurgitating their freshly caught meal. This large Chilean skua decided to land on our boat to see if we had anything of interest.

In the video below you can see the skua after it has landed on the bow of the zodiac. Shortly after, something catches its eye and it takes off towards the video camera. The camera then goes out of focus and what you don't see in the commotion is me trying to keep the skua from stealing the glove off of my left hand. Apparently that's what caught his eye and I guess he thought it might make a nice addition to his nest! Following the altercation the skua hovered above my video camera for a while, his black eyes thoroughly checking me over for anything else he might like.

This was an incredible experience for me. Despite what you may think about their aggressive nature, every animal holds an important place in the natural order of things. The Chilean skua is a beautiful bird with a striking cinnamon colored chest and bold, white markings on the tips of its wings. With this unique experience the skua has become an unexpected favorite for me.

- Caitlin


1 comment:

  1. Wow!! Fantastic video Caitlin! This is pretty amazing - now I understand your fascination with Skuas!