Date: 7/31/20 7:10 pm From: Geoffrey Hill <hillgee...> Subject: [ALbirds] South Polar Skua Friday 5:55pm
I drove down to Gulf Shores after some morning work to look for the skua. I arrived around 345 and I was the only birder in the area all afternoon/evening. Between about 4 and 6 I walked up and down the beach from about 300 meters to the west of the fishing pier to about 300 meters to the east. I scanned the ocean with my scope, looked at every bird on the beach for as far as I could see, and watched for a bird coming from inland. Nothing remotely like skua appeared. One good thing is there are no gulls around except laughing and so the only big birds are Brown Pelican and Osprey. I figured if it showed up the skua would stick out and it did. At 5:55PM I had just finished talking to people (I got asked a lot what I was doing) and was walking west toward the pier, which was about 300 feet in front of me when a big bird zoomed in from my right. It seemed to come from over the hotel but I’m not sure about that it didn’t come off the ocean and wheel around . It flew straight at about 30 gulls and terns that were resting on the beach and sent them screaming in all directions. It was big gull-like bird flashing white at the base of the primaries. It was very fast and very aggressive. I lost the bird as the mass of gulls and terns swarmed past the pier. I think it headed out toward open water. That was it. It never showed up again.
One note about parking—there is abundant parking over by Lake Shelby across the highway from the beach. You can walk right over to the pier on the pedestrian overpass. Geoff Hill
Dr. Geoffrey Hill
Dept. Biol. Sci.
331 Funchess Hall
Auburn, AL 36849-5414