After one of my early-summer trips to Fort De Soto, I drove up the coast to check on Black Skimmer colonies. They nest in June and typically begin hatching around Father’s Day. While it was early afternoon and harsh light, and the beaches were crowded with people, I got to see some good birds. Oh yeah, and I’ll be able to bring you photos of cute skimmer babies, if luck and weather cooperate!
I found the Black Skimmers nesting where I expected them. Most were on eggs already. With a long lens, I could get head shots. The Black Skimmer is one of the few birds whose lower mandible (beak) is longer than the top. this allows them to skim along the water to grab fish.
It was mid-day, and the birds were roosting on the beach instead of skimming. Also the water was full of people. I did catch a few birds coming in for a landing. I guess when you’ve incubated your eggs for long enough, you have to come to the ocean for a quick bath to cool off!
I noticed a nearby Brown Pelican and began watching him as he dove for fish. He flew in, sailing on the wind like the boat behind him…
Then he dove face-first into the water to scoop some fish into his bill. His fishing technique is similar to the skimmer’s, except of course the skimmer doesn’t have the giant pouch. The bird dove straight into the ocean before I had a chance to zoom out.
A few seconds later, he was sloshing around in the shore waves and chewing his lunch. Mmm, fish!
Satisfied that I’d be spending some happy afternoons here in a few weeks, I headed back to my car. On my way, I passed a small flock of terns. Most terns were off in nesting colonies by this point, but a few stragglers were still getting their act together. One lady pointed out that they were showing off for my camera. I like it when birds show off!
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!