When the Admiral of the Atlantic, Brian Patteson, tells you that there’s a pretty good chance of seeing a Great Skua you gotta believe. But by 1:45 PM I was plenty worried, especially after we passed through a huge feeding flock of gannets and gulls without breaking in the target bird. Kate Sutherland, the Deck Boss, had been hard at work since 8:00 AM continuously chumming with chopped up fish to keep the seabirds following the Stormy Petrel II.
This creates commotion that attracts more interesting seabirds to the stern. We did have two Black-capped Petrels and three Great Shearwaters but not a sign of a Skua.
I figured we were cooked. We had less than three hours left and it just wasn’t destined to happen today. But instead of moping or relaxing, I decided to bear down and scan for the remaining two hours. Not more than five minutes after I began scanning, everything got noisy over the intercom and Brian cut the boat speed. Keith yelled look up and low and behold a Great Skua flew right over the boat going behind us.
After about a ¼ mile it banked and attacked a Herring Gull. It turns out that young Ali Iyoob, a sixteen year-old birder from North Carolina had spotted the Great Skua as it came out of the sun flying with purpose directly towards the boat. Great job, Ali!
There was again joyous celebration. This story deserves more but its late and I’ve got a 6:00 AM flight to Toronto tomorrow morning.