AN AMATEUR photographer has managed to capture incredible images of a ferocious bird fight in the Inner Hebrides.
Alan Benson snapped the moment a seagull and great skua battled in the sea just off the island of Eigg last week (AUG 15).
The 64-year-old, from Trowbridge, Wiltshire, was on a Hebridean cruise when he spotted the birds clashing nearby.
Alan captured scene-by-scene action shots of the sea birds brawling just metres from the boat.
Images show the brown-feathered great skua gliding through the air as it focuses on the gull.
The ferocious bird is then shown closing in on its prey before the pair drop towards the sea and the predator grasps the gull’s head in its beak.
Despite the battle, Alan revealed that the seagull surprisingly managed to escape its enemy’s clutches and was left unscathed.
Speaking today (FRI), former milkman Alan said: “It was off the coast of Eigg a few miles out before we got there.
“I was laid off six months ago so I am doing a few tours, we were on a cruise.
“They were both flying towards us and I noticed through the lens that the skua had its eye on the gull all of the time.
“It then went for the attack in mid air, then they both dropped onto the sea and the skua really went for the gull.
“The skua will attack other birds to get them to regurgitate their last meal or even steal it from them and some will kill the other bird like puffins.
“I thought that the way it was going that I was going to see a dead gull on the water, but it fought back and got away.
“It was amazing to see and photograph as it went on for nearly two minutes.”
Alan shared the incredible action shots to Facebook yesterday (THU) captioned: “Witnessed an attack by a great skua on a gull at sea.
“It was full on. I thought the gull was going to be injured or even killed by the skua. Here are a few shots of the start of it more to follow as it was amazing and happening right in front of me as well.”
Social media users left comments after being amazed by the images.
Sheila Fox said: “Wonderful action shots Alan, very dramatic. Poor gull, I gather it got away?”
Martin Roll said: “Brilliant sequence.”
Carole Britton said: “Well captured – looks like the gull was giving as good as it got.”
Bee Griffiths said: “Those things are a menace. Up here on Shetland they are called Bonxies, they are about the top predator.
“Real airborne thugs. They bully the birds into dropping their catches and sometimes take the birds as well.”
The great skua is known as an aggressive pirate of the seas and deliberately harasses birds as large as gannets to steal free meals.
They also readily kill and eat smaller birds such as puffins.
There are around 10,000 great skua pairs across the UK.