The Arctic summer is a time when one can witness birds that we only glimpse during the New England winter. During the colder months just off of the southern Rhode Island and Connecticut coasts, species such as the Red-throated Loon (or Red-throated Diver) can be spotted. But more often than not, these individuals will be adults in their drab, winter plumage. Come summer and migration routes north, however, things change and liven up during breeding season. Seeing such brightly-colored adults with their young allows for a broader visual perspective and general appreciation of avian life cycles.
Iceland, as a high-latitude, North Atlantic island also attracts pelagic birds, such as skuas, to briefly come ashore during the early summer months as well.
Both skua species are robbers that steal prey from other seabirds through aggressive, in-flight harassment. Biologists term this behavior, kleptoparasitism. Furthermore, the Great Skua can be particularly ferocious in its attacks and in its feeding upon eggs and young.
According to writer Lawrence Millman, the skua ...is the only bird that chooses to live in both the Arctic and Antarctic, and it's the only living creature other than crazed explorers ever seen in the vicinity of the South Pole. Observed firsthand, its flight has a spooky, unwavering directness and stroke. Though they are large and purposeful in the air, they can at times seem to appear from nowhere, rowing steadily just above the tundra or open water, their aim-point, a horizon ever stretched. The world moves out of their way. Their only known threats are eagles, and the orca.
Regarding the skua, Edward Forbush in his 1925, Birds of Massachusetts and other New England States, remarks:
...powerful of wing, it rides unharmed upon the storm, and so it keeps the sea...