Great Skua at Wheldrake Ings

A Great Skua (Bonxie) was found at Wheldrake Ings on Thursday morning. Yesterday Ollie Metcalf described its attack on a Grey Heron:

“Amazing spectacle at Wheldrake this morning.

 I arrived at 08.15 when the bonxie was sat peacefully on the edge of the water. Shortly after it shot up in the air, ignoring several corvids and gulls, before aerially diving on an adult heron. It then continued to force the heron out of the air and on to the water. Both birds then struck aggression postures and viciously attacked each other with blows from the beaks. After about five minutes, they both appeared exhausted and at stalemate.

After a brief reprieve, with both birds still on the water, the heron began making small charges at the bonxie to scare it away. It obviously misjudged one of these as the bonxie managed to get it by its neck and force it’s head underwater. After a lengthy struggle, the heron went limp and the bonxie turned it over and appeared to try and rip it’s foot off. This brought the heron back to life, but after another prolonged struggle with the bonxie sat on the herons back and forcing its head and body underwater, it finally succumbed. I had to leave as it was slowly pushing the body back to dry ground whilst aggressively plucking it, still perched on the carcass. I have no doubt it was intending to eat the heron.

An astonishing sight, and whilst I have seen migrating bonxies making darting attacks on gannets and migrating herons, I have never seen one actually tackle and kill such large prey.”

The bird has been reported throughout the day today and has been returning to its kill for feeding. It was still there at dusk on Saturday and also performing well on Sunday morning.

See also Jono’s blog  for information on its ageing and moult, and why it is a Bonxie and not anything rarer.