More from the skimmer colony

After the feeding frenzy early in the morning most of the skimmers settled down for a nap.

They look so cute with those fuzzy butts.

Many of the siblings were fighting. I’m sure the oldest gets fed first. If a stray baby gets too close to another family’s scrape, the parent will shoo him away.

There are so many skimmers nesting in the same area. The area gets roped off by volunteer bird stewards who keep an eye on the area. I guess there is safety in numbers. When a crow or gull flies over the area, looking to grab a stray baby or egg, many of the parents chase them away. That’s why it’s important to keep the parents from flushing and flying away. Those mean birds will sneak right in and grab something. They are hungry too.

This baby is letting his parent know he’s hungry.

The adults take turns going down to the water to take a quick bath and scoop up a fish to bring back to the nest while the other parent guards the babies.

A small portion of the skimmers hanging out along the water (with royal terns behind them). By now most of the babies are all grown up and flying around on their own.

Sushi for your first meal

I missed seeing those little fuzz balls. I had not been over to the beach to catch the baby black skimmers growing up since the summer of 2019. This year I got there right after the sun came up. Black skimmers nest in huge colonies right on the sand on public beaches. The area is roped off with signs to keep people from stepping on the babies since they blend into the sand. These were all taken far away from the rope since I had my 300mm lens and extender on my camera. These are also cropped up. The parents were just starting to feed the babies when I arrived.

The baby ages ranged from 1 day old to a week old. It always amazes me how they get those fish down. Even though they are tiny fish, they seem like they couldn’t fit in the baby’s tummy. There were a few times when a baby tried to swallow and then dropped it because they couldn’t get it down. Usually the parent would pick it up and eat it themselves.

It also amazes me how a parent can fly down to the water and catch a fish and then come back and find their own baby. Sometimes they get chased around by other parents trying to steal the fish or a baby thinking it’s his parent.It’s always chaos during feeding time.

Sometimes the siblings try and get the fish from each other and fighting takes place.

It’s funny to watch when the parent brings back a needlefish. The parent may break up the fish with his beak before giving it to the baby.

Those cute little sand babies

This baby was begging Mom to go get a fish. He was hungry, biting the parent’s beak and legs.

So many mouths to feed.

This one above appeared hungry but realized he would not be able to get that big fish down. After a few minutes he just sat down and wouldn’t take the fish from the parent. Maybe the parent had already fed them. The fish ended up in the sand.

It took this one a while but he eventually got it down.

After a while all of the babies were napping.

Another bumper crop of black skimmer babies this summer on the beaches in the Tampa bay area. So many babies and the parents were flying back and forth with tiny bait fish to feed them. I always wonder how the parents can find their own babies in a sea of little birds.

Photographing New Zealand

What I think the skimmers say

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“Don’t come close” says mom skimmer.

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“I’ll just lean on this big stick.”

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“You’re squishing me mom!”

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“FISHHHHHH!!”

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“When is my brother going to hatch?”

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Mom, she’s taking my picture.”

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“This fish won’t fit down my throat.”

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“I know this isn’t a baby bird, but this ball is so soft to cuddle with.”

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“Don’t eat me.” says the fish.

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A people eye view of the skimmers nesting on the sand.

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The birds are surrounded by ropes and there are signs all over the area to keep people from trampling through the nesting area.

More shots from my visit with the black skimmer colony on the beach back in late June.

Babies on the beach.

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A parent still waiting for the eggs to hatch.

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Parents were staying close to the babies. Most were only a day or two old.

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“What are you looking at lady?”

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Sibling sticking together. The one on the left looks a few hours to a day older than the other.

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Two parents, two tiny babies.

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The older sibling is on alert.

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“Mom, this doesn’t taste like fish.”

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“I’m coming!”

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“There’s no room under there for me.”

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“One day I’ll be flying.”

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“I’m the loudest.”

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“Nap time.”

Another summer, another trip to see the baby black skimmers. Black skimmers nest right on the beach. There are several areas near me that have skimmers nesting but one  area has a big flock of them that is very visible. The nesting area is roped off so people on the beach don’t walk through the area and step on the babies or eggs. It would be easy to do if you weren’t paying attention since they blend right in to the sand. The parents raise their babies right on the beach for all to watch. This was my 6th year to visit them and every time I feel like I could watch them for hours. This trip I went after work and was only there about an hour and a half. It went by so quick. I took a ton of pictures. There were so many babies this year all born around the same time. I was there for dinner time and took pictures of the parents feeding the babies fish. I’ll post those later.

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Also, check out more bird pictures at Paying Ready Attention  for