The first record of Brown Skua Catharacta antarctica in Europe


*Corresponding author.


Evidence from mtDNA suggests that two skuas, one discovered in the Scilly Islands Cornwall in October 2001, the other in Glamorgan in February 2002, belong to the Brown Skua group Catharacta antarctica– a species not previously recorded in the North Atlantic. These molecular data do not exclude the possibility of either bird being a hybrid between Brown Skua and South Polar Skua C. maccormicki, but population estimates suggest that this is unlikely. More importantly, biometrics show that the Glamorgan bird is much smaller than hybrids but matches Falkland Skua C. a. antarctica. The distributions of C. antarctica subspecies at sea are not well known, but the discovery of two of these birds in the UK suggests that they may wander more extensively than previously thought.