Splashing and skimming

June is the time of the year when you can find black skimmers on the beaches in the Tampa bay area. They aren’t spread out across the area like gulls are but tend to congregate in certain spots to nest. Skimmers lay their eggs right on the beach and they do it in large colonies. In late June it was hot and many of the adults were hanging out along the water line taking baths. I was wishing I had brought my swimsuit so I could have joined them. They were also skimming along the line trying to catch fish to take back to the babies. There were lots of babies. More to come.

One last look at the summer baby skimmers

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This little skimmer was just figuring out what those wings and beak were for.



There were still a few babies that hadn’t not made it to the shoreline yet. They were still sticking close to mom.


This skimmer was missing a foot.



A few adults were taking a bath.



This young one was just starting to fly.


Right next to the skimmers, this guy caught this fish.

Now all the baby skimmers are grown up and gone. Off to conquer the world!

What I think the skimmers say


“Don’t come close” says mom skimmer.


“I’ll just lean on this big stick.”


“You’re squishing me mom!”




“When is my brother going to hatch?”


Mom, she’s taking my picture.”


“This fish won’t fit down my throat.”


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


“Don’t eat me.” says the fish.


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


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.

One last look at skimmers for the summer


Soon the black skimmers will be hard to find for the winter. These were all taken back in late July at Fort Desoto. They were hanging around the beach near the fishing pier.


They look so graceful when they are skimming.

Scratching an itch.


Taking a bath.


Splashing around.


Drying off.


Showing off for the laughing gull. “My wings are bigger than yours.”


Out on the water trying to scoop up some bait fish.


They were all busy skimming for fish.


I was standing on the pier taking these pictures and a guy asked me what kind of birds these were. I said “They were skimmers.” He said “Why do they call them skimmers.” I politely explained that they skim the top of the water for fish but really, do they need an explanation if you see them in action?

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Birds flying high – Skywatch Friday


The adult skimmers usually don’t get much attention since their little babies are so cute. Everyone is taking pictures of the babies running around. I think that feather he has in his beak is a laughing gull feather.


Skimmers high up in the sky. They are constantly chasing after each other. I’m not sure if they are fighting over something, territory or a mate? Or are they are flirting?


They fly really fast in circles.


I love the way their tail feathers fan out. Perfect form.

DSC_3439Skimming for fish right before sunset.


Ibis were also looking for food right before the sun went down.

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It’s amazing how much the sky changes in the hour I’m out on the beach before sunset. You could see the rain out in the gulf but it never made it on shore. I think the risk of rain had sent most people home for the night. It really cooled down when those big rain clouds came close. Luckily, there was no lightning or thunder. Otherwise, I’d be home as well.

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Skimmers on the beach – Skywatch Friday


Landing in the water right in front of me.


Then he took off right in front of me.


Another fly-by.


Coming in for a landing.


Going down.


Too close.


Joining the crowd.

Yes, more skimmer pictures. One last look at this past spring’s visit to the skimmer colony. This was my last trip in August. Until next spring!

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Hungry baby black skimmers

“Yum, taste like chicken.”

“Hold my back mom, so I don’t fall backwards. This is a big one.”

“Gimmi, Gimmi!”

“I’ll rest here while I swallow.”

“Hmm, needs salt.”

I stopped by the beach after work to see the baby black skimmers that had just been born. These were all just a few days old. It was right before the sun went down and the parents were busy feeding the babies. Adult skimmers would fly in and find their baby and hand them a tiny fish. It’s amazing how they know which one belongs to them out of all the babies there that look exactly alike. The parents had to fend off other babies and parents trying to steal their fish as well as laughing gulls and crows that kept flying over the nesting grounds. At first count there were over 500 parents nesting. They sit on the dunes right in front of a big condo complex on the beach. The area is kept roped off so people won’t wander into the nesting area. The babies blend into the sand and could be easily stepped on. All of the above were taken with my 400mm lens and highly cropped.

On a sad note, of all the babies born during that week, only a handful remain alive inside the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary. The bird stewards were able to save around 20 babies right before thunderstorm Debby camped out in the Tampa bay area and flooded the beaches. We’re hoping the skimmers will nest again but it’s pretty late in the season and they are tired birds. So is the volunteer team at the sanctuary. They’ve been overwhelmed with birds including babies that were rescued during the storm. They are a non-profit organization that needs all the help they can get. 

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