The Bonxie

The Great Skua or Bonxie as it is known is a very common bird in the islands that lie off far north and north west coast of Britain especially around the sea bird colonies where it often makes its home due to the ready supply of food as it predates anything that it can find, it is also a big fish eater.  The Shetland Isles are globally important for the Great Skua and about 12,000 pairs can be found here each summer which is a significant number of the estimated European population of about 18,000 pairs.  It can also be seen along the Scandinavian and Icelandic coasts.  Indeed the name Bonxie comes from its local Shetland name.

The Great Skua is a large bird of between 50 and 60cm long with a wingspan of between 125 and 140 cm.  It is far from shy and can become very aggressive towards anything that gets in its territory including man.  It gives a harsh reparative hah, hah, hah call which leaves you in no doubt you are not welcome.  If this warning is not heeded, it will fly towards you and will pass by very close, and sometimes draws blood as it passes people heads.

These images have been taken over a few years in Shetland, fair Isle, and Iceland.