Alone at Sea with Jaegers and Skuas.

The Jaegers and Skuas are the nasty Pirates of the high seas. They are powerful bully birds, power flyers and mostly solitary birds.

Pomarine and Arctic Jaegers.

The Pomarine and Arctic Jaegers breed far away north in the Arctic regions and both travel the amazing distance to the east coast of Australia to feed their appetite to pillage and plunder. Both of these birds are power flyers, flying high and straight ignoring the prevailing winds. Jaegers pay no attention to fishing boats which make them most difficult to observe let alone photograph. They do not like to fish themselves preferring to rely instead on the fishing skills of other birds and their own piracy skills.

 

(Right) A Pomarine Jaeger (bottom of image) shadows a flock of Terns ready to pounce on any bird which scores a meal. This Pirate tactic effectively gives the Jaeger the fishing power of the entire flock of birds.

Their piracy skills are well backed up by their superior power and endurance. Jaegers also have incredible eyesight, if a Tern or Shearwater scores a meal they will power in from afar and instantly zero in on the very bird which has just scored a fish then relentlessly harass and hassle, in flight, persistently matching every turn, climb and dive in an aerial dogfight which may last several minutes and is ever most fun to watch but which the Jaeger always wins for there is only one outcome as even the most dogged Tern or Shearwater will finally, even if swallowed, disgorge and hand over its bounty to the Pirate. 

Many Birds have learnt that it is useless to even try to evade a pursuing Jaeger and will instantly give up their bounty to avoid a battle which uses up a lot of energy and always ends in defeat.

 

Occasionally I have a rare visit from a Frigate Bird which also has Pirate bird tendencies. The tactics of a Frigate Bird is to soar almost invisibly high and seemingly motionlessly in the sky like a spy plane watching for a bird it can pirate a meal from. One day while I was observing a Jaeger hassle a Tern  for a fish it had caught when suddenly a Frigate Bird appeared on the scene and immediately zeroed in on the Jaeger.

 

The Jaeger did not enjoy getting back some of his own medicine as the Frigate Bird now pursued the Jaeger all over the sky who was in turn pursuing the Tern.

 

The Tern gave up his bounty, so who won the air battle between two of the greatest Pirates of the open sea and finally scored the bounty.....as seen here with the Tern and Jaeger in the sky above, the Frigate Bird catches the fish moments before it would have fallen back into the sea.             

 

 

 

 

 

 

Antarctic Skua.   

A similar but larger bird than the Pomarine and Arctic Jaegers, and breeds at the other end of the globe around the Antarctic regions however holidays here off south eastern Queensland alongside its northern cousins. It is also a powerful Pirate and uses its superior size and power to avoid prolonged dogfights by simply ‘storming’ terns which are then very quickly overwhelmed. Unlike any other seabird I know the Antarctic Skua has the astonishing winged power to spring vertically out of the water and ascend strait up very much like a helicopter which I find so fascinating to observe. 

One year I had one befriend me for about three months. The bird would find me every day no matter which part of the ocean I was in. Forever paddling along behind me as I winched my gear and flying when I needed to motor between my lines. Mostly ignoring any tucker which drifted its way, this bird appeared to be just enjoying my company which became mutual. I would start looking for this bird as soon as I finished shooting my gear away in the morning; it was like “where’s my little mate today?” Then one day he did not show, I truly missed that bird but I knew that as the weather warmed up he would feel the need to return south to the Antarctic region.   

Richard Freeman.   

 

                       Framed Prints of Jaegers and Skuas.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

 

 

Alone at Sea with Humpback Whales.

Alone at sea with Sharks.

Alone at Sea with my Dolphins.

The Wreck of the ‘’SS Dickey”.

Alone at Sea with my Gannets.

Alone at Sea with my Fairy Prions.

Alone at Sea with my Albatross.

Alone at Sea with Jellies and Stingers.

Alone at Sea with my Giant Petrels.

Alone at Sea with my Storm Petrels.

Alone at Sea with my Terns.

Alone at Sea with Jaegers and Skuas.

Alone at Sea with the Shearwaters.

My 5.6 metre Shark Cat.

Weather at Sea.