Arguing over a little fish

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Back in late July, I was able to stop by the black skimmer nesting site after work. The sun was out and it was a beautiful night. I got there just in time for dinner. Adult skimmers were flying back and forth with fish for the babies. Many of the siblings were fighting over who got the fish. It’s amazing how those fish can fit in those tiny stomachs. Made me want to head home for dinner.

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Fuzzballs being fed fish

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There’s something about these little balls of fuzz that are so adorable. They’re only a few days to a week old and they try to act brave and walk around. Then something spooks them and they go running back under mom. The black skimmers have been nesting here for a long time. I’m not sure how many years but I’ve stopped by to take a peek at the babies since 2009. In 2012, tropical thunderstorm Debby wiped out most of the babies due to flooding. It was sad summer that year. The next year the skimmers were back with a bang. Tons of babies since then.  And, tons of pictures this year again. More to come of these cuties.

More baby skimmers

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Yes, more baby skimmer pictures. I went back to the beach in mid-July to see how grown the babies were after my first trip 3 weeks earlier. The babies in the pictures I posted last week were almost grown up. They weren’t quite flying yet but they were trying hard. They were skipping around and getting off the ground a little. There were also still many more babies just born. I got there around 6pm after work and stayed until after 7:30. Dark clouds were rolling in so most of the babies were settling in for the night. I did get a few of the older babies that I’ll post later.

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Fish sticks for dinner – Skywatch Friday

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When I stopped at the black skimmer colony in early July, I was lucky enough to have come right at dinner time. The parents were busy flying in with tiny fish to feed the babies. For some of the babies, this was their first meal. You would think they could not swallow those little fish that looked bigger than their stomachs but they all eventually got them down. One little baby was so tired trying to swallow it, he had to lay down and rest for a minute. Even he got that fish down. It was constant chaos with parents flying in looking for their baby, babies screaming for mom or babies running to the wrong parent. Before sunset, things started to quiet down and the babies started to settle down under the parent. It was a beautiful night on the beach.

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Teeny tiny baby skimmers

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Only child! (I don’t think that other egg in the back is going to hatch. None of the other birds where claiming it.)

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Family portrait. This couple was going to be busy feeding three.

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“Mom, I’m hungry.”

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“Who gets the first fish?” The one closest to the parent must have been a day old. He still had wet feathers.

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“Ohhhhh!” That fish is almost as big as the baby.

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Going down.

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This one got a tiny fish.

A short video of the baby trying to eat the fish. He eventually got it down but it sat on the sand for a while.

It’s summer and too hot to be inland so I’ve been heading to the beaches more. That means more baby shorebirds. I can’t help but keep visiting the skimmer colony to see the babies. Most of the eggs have hatched even though there are still a few late bloomers coming. There are hundreds of teeny tiny babies running around the roped off area. The parents are busy flying back and forth between the surf and the nests bringing in fish for the babies. Right before sunset is the busiest with babies being fed one last time before dark. I just plop down on the sand and watch the tiny skimmer world in action. It’s like watching “The Truman Show” for birds. I hope you don’t get too bored with my baby skimmer pictures. My hubby asks me “How many pictures are you going to take of those birds?” My answer? “Thousands.”

Camera Critters

Dinner with the Skimmers

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“Now if I could only find my chick.”

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“Don’t let it get sandy.”

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“Down the hatch.”

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“Look Mom, I can flip my fish already.”

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“Stop teasing me!”

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“Stop fighting over this lousy fish.”

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“Is this our pre-meal workout?”

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“Hey, where’s mine?”

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“Littlest baby gets the biggest fish.”

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“It’s stuck!”

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“Can I have chicken nuggets instead?”

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“Mine! Mine!”

So many mouths to feed. As the sun went down, more parents were bringing in fish for the baby skimmers. You wonder how that fish can fit inside that tiny body but all of the babies got them down. It’s so funny to watch them get excited over the fish. Chaos starts when a parent flies in to the roped off area with a fish. Gulls try to steal the fish from the skimmer as he flies in. Other babies run up to the wrong parent trying to get the fish. Other skimmer parents try and steal the fish. It’s amazing how they know which baby belongs to them. They all look alike and there were babies everywhere. They always get the fish to the right ones.

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Baby skimmers – class of 2013

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“Oh no, here comes another giant with the black box. Let’s stay in our hole so she can’t see us.”

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“Mom, can I go to a party tonight? Little Johnny from two holes down is having his 2nd day birthday party”

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“Where’s my fish?”

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“If I can’t fly yet, I’ll jump.”

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“Don’t step on us! We blend into the sand so watch where you are walking on the beach this summer.”

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“Mom won’t notice if I sneak away.”

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“This is not comfortable but Mom says it’s not safe to be out running around by ourselves. A laughing gull or crow might eat us.”

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“When are these eggs gonna hatch?”

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“Stay away you mean gulls and crows.”

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“Mom, your butt smells funny.”

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Something spooked the skimmer colony. All of the parents took off flying. Luckily everyone got back to their babies safely but it’s not good to have the parents leave the nest because of below.

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This crow was hanging around the skimmer area, looking for an unsupervised chick.

There’s a section of the beach where the skimmers congregate and build nests in the sand to have their babies. The area is roped off and watched over by a group of volunteers (bird stewards). Last year the area was full of newly hatched babies when thunderstorm Debby hit in late June and flooded the beach. Most of the babies were lost and the skimmers did not re-nest. This year, a little earlier in June, thunderstorm Andrea came through and flooded the beach. It was not as bad as last year and none of the eggs had hatched yet. The front half of the roped off area was flooded and the eggs all settled on a mound in the middle. Most of those skimmers have since laid eggs again. I had heard a few babies had hatched so at the end of June I headed out after work. A handful of eggs in the back of the area had hatched so there were a few babies already running around. Some where only a day or two old.

These little baby birds have so much personality. They sneak out from under mom and act like they are going to be brave. Something spooks them and they run back under mom. They go chasing after the parent when it comes back with a fish. Their little wings are flapping so hard even though they are barely moving. It seemed to be feeding time and I got tons of babies with fish pictures which I’ll post later.

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