You may recall that I recently scouted out a Black Skimmer colony and observed lots of mating and courtship behaviors. Knowing that the incubation time for Black Skimmers is 21-23 days, I calculated the time when I should head back and find babies. Guess what? I found them! :)
It was a hot, sunny afternoon and lots of Laughing Gulls were lurking overhead, waiting to swoop down and grab an untended chick. So the parents kept the babies pretty close. The best views of the babies were during feeding time, when Dad would offer a fish in his long beak and the baby would wiggle out to take it.
Skimmers like to eat needlefish, and the challenge is to find fish small enough for the babies to gulp down. It’s not unusual to see a newborn chick struggling to eat a fish that seems to be almost as big as he is!
The best part of photographing young birds is all the interactions – sibling squabbles, cuddles with Mom, feeding time, wing-stretching, etc. I was delighted when the two babies in the photo above emerged and started chasing each other. They tired quickly, with one collapsing on the sand by Mom’s wing, and the other nuzzling under her beak.
As the sun started to set and the golden light glowed, I wandered down to the waves with my wide-angle lens to capture the last light of the day. A few Black Skimmers were fishing in the waves in the foreground, a perfect end to this beautiful day!
Want to learn more about nature photography at Black Skimmer Colonies?
Check out my Black Skimmer Colonies page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!
Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!