It’s Skimmer Time Again!

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It’s getting to be one of my favorite times of the year…summer and beaches and nesting shorebirds! On our way back from Cape Coral and Sanibel, Rich and I stopped off at a skimmer colony in Sarasota to see if the nesting was underway. Yep, I think it’s safe to say that we’ll have baby skimmers in a month or so…

Black Skimmers Getting Ready for Tiny Cute Fuzzballs! :)
Black Skimmers Getting Ready for Tiny Cute Fuzzballs! :)

It’s such fun to watch these birds in their nesting colony. They fly in and out constantly, and their calls to each other sound like dog barks. They nest in a small area of the beach, tightly packed together. There’s safety in numbers. Although I didn’t see eggs on this visit, the birds were definitely paired up.

Black Skimmer Pair
Black Skimmer Pair

The Black Skimmer is distinctive with its bill shape. Unlike most birds, the Black Skimmer’s lower mandible is longer than the top, making it easy for the bird to “skim” for fish in the ocean. It’s fun to wade out in the water and get closer to them as they fish.

Skimming for Fish
Skimming for Fish

I also get a chuckle out of watching “skimmer skirmishes,” when two birds will start fussing at each other and then take to the skies to fight. I guess when you nest in really close proximity to your neighborhoods, the occasional squabble is bound to occur.

Skimmer Skirmish
Skimmer Skirmish

These birds can be very graceful in flight. The winds were right that afternoon for nice flight angles against a green beach background.

Black Skimmer in Flight
Black Skimmer in Flight

The skimmers were not the only birds with courtship on the mind. This pair of Laughing Gulls was sporting breeding plumage and showing decided interest in each other.

Laughing Gulls
Laughing Gulls

This pair of Royal Terns got inspired by all the nesting skimmers. You can see the colony in the background. I haven’t yet photographed Royal Tern chicks…maybe this year will be the year!

Royal Terns
Royal Terns

Not too far away, a Ring-billed Gull found a large fish and stood protecting his victory.

Ring-billed Gull
Ring-billed Gull

It was a really fun afternoon. I’m looking forward to spending more time at the beaches in the upcoming weeks, especially as the baby fuzzballs start hatching!

Black Skimmer in Flight
Black Skimmer in Flight

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