Date: 7/31/20 5:44 am
From: Lawrence Gardella <lfgardella...>
Subject: Re: [ALbirds] An agonizing mega tic of a South Polar Skua
It has been seen again ready this morning. Same locale, between the
(closed) fishing pier and the pavilion.

Larry Gardella

On Fri, Jul 31, 2020, 6:17 AM Emma Rhodes <emmarhodes09...> wrote:

> Bob,
> I observed the bird shortly after you and Lucy had left. I initially saw
> it flying over the dunes and shortly after that observed it sitting on the
> beach about 1/4 mile from the fishing pier.
> I was beyond ecstatic to see my lifer Skua! I watched it for some time
> before it flew south over the gulf. I observed it sitting on top of the
> water for some time before it eventually disappeared. Congratulations!
> What an awesome bird!
> Emma
> On Thu, Jul 30, 2020, 9:16 PM Lawrence Gardella <lfgardella...>
> wrote:
>> On the basis of the great photos from this morning, and despite the
>> extent of white i am now confident the skua is South Polar, as called this
>> morning. Folks on the Skuas and Jaegers Facebook page agree.
>> What a bird!
>> Larry Gardella
>> Daphne
>> On Thu, Jul 30, 2020, 9:06 PM Lucy & Bob Email <
>> <RobertADuncan...> wrote:
>>> Hi all,
>>> Right after lunch today I (Bob) checked our email and found a rare bird
>>> alert for Baldwin Co. AL and to his surprise and with great reservations
>>> found that a South Polar Skua was reported at Gulf Shores State Park that
>>> morning. WHAT? No way. But photos from the two intrepid birders who found
>>> it showed a definite Skua! Lucy immediately called several south Alabama
>>> birders while throwing camera and sunscreen, water bottles and sunhats in
>>> our tote bag. A nap was postponed and Lucy and I hit the road right away.
>>> Gulf Shores is about 45 – 60 mins west of Pensacola. It had been found
>>> between the park pavilion and the Fishing Pier (closed for repairs now).
>>> We walked the board walk from the pavilion to the beach in beastly glare
>>> from midday sun, oppressive heat and humidity, only to find the beach was
>>> so crowded with sunbathers, swimmers and beach umbrellas that it was hard
>>> to even see terns and Laughing Gulls loafing. No bird could be found. So we
>>> drove to the Convention Center & Hotel just west down the beach and tried
>>> there. Once again, no bird but crowds of sun gazers and bathers. Larry
>>> Gardella was in the area searching as well, with no luck either.
>>> OK. We can’t expect to score every time we chase a bird. So we drove
>>> west through Gulf Shores to Little Lagoon Pass hoping for a longshot. No
>>> luck. So we started back toward Gulf Shores and just before we got to the
>>> center of town Larry called and was ecstatic, he had the bird between the
>>> pavilion and the convention center, only a couple of miles away! We managed
>>> to get every agonizing red light in Gulf Shores before we got to the center
>>> and walked out its long boardwalk to the beach. Once again, no bird in
>>> sight, but tons of people. Lucy decided to walk east down the beach and try
>>> but I opted to stay on the boardwalk where I had a better overall view of
>>> the area. I watched her closely and every now and then she would turn
>>> around and wave and I would wave back.
>>> I was about to go back to the Center and find shade when out of nowhere
>>> this very large dark bird with prominent white in the wings passed right
>>> in front of me over the edge of the beach. The SKUA! I followed it in my
>>> glasses as it flew toward Lucy, by now hundreds of yards away and out of
>>> earshot. It was going to pass BEHIND her and she was looking offshore!
>>> PLEASE TURN AROUND! PLEASE TURN AROUND I thought and began shouting out
>>> loud, pointlessly. But she continued to look offshore, much to my dismay!!
>>> The bird seemed to disappear behind the dunes from my vantage point. I
>>> wildly gesticulated to no avail and to the perplexity of people around me
>>> who must have thought that this guy was crazy.
>>> Lucy now: Meanwhile I had seen a bird feeding with terns just outside of
>>> the breakers, but couldn’t get a decent look, nor a size comparison, only
>>> seeing a dark bird and some white flashing. The only reasonable bird I
>>> could think of that it might be if not the skua was a molting Black Tern
>>> which can look rather ratty and splotchy at this time. I turned to point
>>> toward the feeding flock to have Bob focus on that area, and when I looked
>>> back, I couldn’t find it. I then decided to continue my trek east down the
>>> beach, and suddenly, there was this huge, very dark bird halfway between
>>> the high tide and dunes, and it was only about 80 feet in front of me. And,
>>> it was knocking the heck out of a small fish! I managed a few shots, turned
>>> and waved a thumbs up at Bob, but didn’t know if he’d seen it or not.
>>> Deciding to shoot more and wave less, I eased up on the bird which had
>>> eaten the fish and was sitting down. I stopped, not wanting to spook it,
>>> but the bird got up and flew……..straight toward me, alighting about 10 feet
>>> away. We stared at each other briefly, then it got up and flew out over the
>>> Gulf.
>>> Bob: But then I could see in binos that she was intently looking at
>>> something on the beach and taking photos! Yes, she got the bird and our
>>> marriage was salvaged!!
>>> A word of caution for anyone going for it this weekend. Parking could be
>>> a problem and the beaches even more crowded than today, if that’s possible.
>>> If you plan to go for it, go early before the beach-goers get out there.
>>> We should add that we have not yet examined Lucy’s photos, so we’re not
>>> certain if the bird is a South Polar Skua or a Great Skua. It was reported
>>> this morning as a South Polar Skua by the two gals who found it while doing
>>> a “turtle patrol.”
>>> Bob and Lucy Duncan
>>> Gulf Breeze

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