By Shannon Lane @shannonroselane

THESE conniving seabirds have found an alternative to fishing for their food - stealing it

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Photographer David Tipling watched the Great skuas as they prepared to make their attack

The great skua is known for a technique called kleptoparasitism, a form of feeding in which the animal steals the prey that another has caught or collected.

The Great skua is known for being aggressive, with no fear

In June 2016, wildlife photographer David Tipling snapped the moment an innocent gannet was robbed of its meal by an attacking great skua, on the island of Unst, Shetland.

Attack! The great skua chases an innocent gannet on its way back to the colony

He said: “I spent much of my time with one particular skua that sat watching the gannets returning to the colony. It would single out individuals for attack, flying really fast up behind them taking the gannet by surprise, before grabbing either its tail or wing and tipping the gannet over in mid air.

Watch out: The Great skua closes in on the gannett

“Losing height and struggling to retain control in the air, the only way the gannets could escape the marauding skua was to regurgitate their fish that they were bringing back for their chicks.”

It’s no question why the skua has little predators, with its aggressive nature and fierce attacking technique.

David Tipling waited patiently to capture these rare photographs of such a brutal moment

The photographer said: “It reminded me of watching old footage of Spitfires attacking big lumbering bombers, the skuas muscular physique and speed of attack were too much for the gannets to cope with.

There's no escaping the Great skua

“Each encounter was very exciting to watch and always a challenge to photograph. With most attacks being too far away I had to be patient and wait for around one in ten battles to occur close enough to be photographed.”

Get off! The pirate skua grabs hold of the gannet’s wing feathers

This thieving behaviour has rarely been photographed so clearly before and it was a large achievement for the well-known UK wildlife photographer.

The skuas are known for being vicious in their attacks

This thieving behaviour has rarely been photographed so clearly before and it was a large achievement for the well-known UK wildlife photographer.

The gannett make their way back to the colony with their catch

He said: “Every time I captured a series of pictures, just like a footballer celebrating after scoring a goal I did a little celebratory dance on the cliff top.

The gannetts fish for their dinner, unaware of the threat to come

“One of my aims is always to capture images from the natural world that have rarely if ever been captured before.”

You can see more of David Tipling’s wildlife photographs at: http://www.davidtipling.com