One early morning, just after dawn, Cocoa Beach, Florida, I had a revelation. My wife and I walk the beach four or more miles each day we are lucky enough to be in Florida for the winter. Yes, we are “snow birds” who flee the snows of New York for a few weeks, now and then.
We love to catch the sunrise together, have breakfast, pull together a lunch for a long walk. We catch the passing beach scenery, find a place to enjoy our meal, and return late afternoon.
The Black Skimmer (Scientific Name: Rynchops niger) literally stands out from the gulls. The individuals gather together in a large group. If there is a wind, most group members face into it. They are aloof and dignified, unlike the gulls who grift for food, obnoxious and bothersome if you make the mistake of throwing a gull a morsel.
Black Skimmers are just as large a gulls. Slender, tern-like, black and white bodies. Recognize a Black Skimmer from the colorful red of the base of the bill. If you view my Fine Art versions, notice the lower mandible is much longer.
My early morning revelation was how the Black Skimmer feeds, flying just above the surf, the lower mandible extended to fish by feel. Unless you beach walk early mornings, you will be most familiar with the habit of grouping together, facing into the wind. I captured this individual, a member of a larger group, just after sunrise, on Cocoa Beach. It was just me and the Skimmers.
Their feeding is successful enough to allow them to longue on the beach most of the day. I have only seen them feed early mornings. Here is another part of their feeding behavior. They feed as a group in long sweeping lengths. At the end, they turn as a group and head the other way. Here are three Black Skimmers in a turn.
One morning, after our sunrise view, I pulled together my photography kit for this successful photo shoot. Enjoy!!
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