Previously I have seen Black Skimmers skimming on calm ponds. On this day I saw a few from this crowd doing it in the ocean.
As you can see above the Atlantic Ocean surf was not particularly rough, but it sure is a different challenge for a Skimmer.
This one hugged the surf line, ignoring other birds along the way.
With the surf in constant motion he had to also alter his path. I did not see him catch anything, although they can gulp it down on the fly and keep on moving.
Royal Terns took the position closer to the water, or maybe that is what the Skimmers left them.
These Terns are spectacular, too, with their orange beaks and black crown.
The last image is from further back. The sun had peaked out below a cloud bank on the western horizon providing a nice late afternoon light.
Their orange feet and bill stripe really make the Black Skimmers stand out.
They were resting here, having just touched down after moving off a sand bar that was about to be covered by the incoming tide.
The tide was coming in so this group of shore birds, mostly Black Skimmers and Royal Terns, had to relocate. It was quite a sight!
I love watching Black Skimmers doing what their name implies. Their flying skills are extraordinary, including not needing to watch where they are going when they plunge their heads into the water.
Very agile, a slight tip of the wings is all they need to change direction or speed.
I didn’t see a fish, but sometimes they pull up just a bit to swallow something they’ve caught before continuing to skim the water.
Bear Island Wildlife Management Area, SC, July 15, 2018.
Great Blue Heron waits
Black Skimmer glides by slowly
Doing their own thing to get breakfast, a Black Skimmer and a flock of Roseate Spoonbills ignored each other.
I was focused on the Skimmer and didn’t expect him to pass that close to the Spoonbills.
The Skimmer made a second pass, probably realizing that the concentrated efforts of the other birds meant that they were on to something.
The Spoonbills continued sifting the water, not at all disturbed by the Skimmer.
A bird this size needs to catch an awful lot of little tiny fish like that to keep fed.
This Black Skimmer gave me a good show with the early morning sun highlighting his black and orange beak, in contrast to last week’s pair that I photographed in poor light.
I had a great view and was able to track his path as he crossed the pond with his lower jaw in the water.
He finally lifted, before making a big turn for another pass.
Click on any image for a closer view.
Bear Island Wildlife Management Area, SC, 7/1/2018.
These Black Skimmers chose to do their skimming in the pond between me and the sun, rather than the prettier marsh on the other side of the dike where the light was beautiful.
The light here doesn’t do justice to their gorgeous orange beaks, but you can see how elegantly Skimmers fly and hunt. When in pairs the almost always fly with their wing beats synchronized.
Swooping around a small island the pair pulled tight together before turning for another long run.
Then they disappeared down an inlet, not to return while I was in the area.
Bear Island Wildlife Management Area, SC, 6/27/2018.