The Arctic Skua at Eakring Flash August 2003
  For over 13 years, Arctic Skua represented the most glaring gap-filler on my Notts list. For several reasons, I had missed this species on at least three occasions during the 1990's - twice at King's Mill Reservoir and once at Netherfield. Despite many thousands of hours spent in the field throughout that time and at every likely site possible, Arctic Skua still eluded me.

My first encounter with any Skua in Notts, was the long-staying Great Skua at Lound. Then I was second on site for the Long-tailed Skua at Bentinck pit top a few years ago. Thus, the most likely Skua to be seen in the county, still remained absent.

The move to Eakring in 1997 mean't that my chances of seeing Arctic Skua in Notts was very likely down to one remaining somewhere (and staying long enough) to be twitchable. Whilst I never ruled out the possibilty of any Skua turning up here, it was a long shot, but one which paid off on August 18th 2003.

Sighting and circumstances

Overnight had been overcast with some occasional light rain and the wind was south-westerly and light. Though it was still overcast for the first hour or so of the morning, it wasn't to the standard where it was gloomy enough for Skua to cross my mind. Indeed the morning soon brightened and it gradually began to clear to blue skies and sunshine.

  Typically for the time of year, there was much gull activity - mostly just Lesser Black-backed Gulls moving from field to field. In with these were a few Black-headed Gulls. Most gulls here go south-west towards Bilsthorpe tip, but some were passing over from the south-west and one of these was followed by an instantly recognisable Arctic Skua.

The Skua was low throughout its flight - passing from my left, behind me and then coming back round for another look at the Eakring Flash before flying slowly off north-east. I hastily checked the assorted gulls in nearby fields, hoping that it may have come down, but it couldn't be located. It was possible that the Skua had roosted overnight on the water at the rear of the old Bilsthorpe pit top and had moved off at the onset of the clearer weather.

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