The cutest babies of all

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“I am Skippy the Skimmer and I am the cutest one here.”

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“Me first.”

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“This is my fish.”

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“I’m Sparky the Skimmer and I am a little bit older. I’m starting to get color in my feathers and my beak is getting longer.”

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“Where’s my  Mom?  You’re not suppose to bother me, Least tern.” said the baby skimmer.  “But you look tasty and I’m hungry” said the juvenile Least tern.

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“Stay away from my baby!” said the adult skimmer.

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“You stay away as well”

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“I’m sticking close to mom”.

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“Who me? I’m not going anywhere.”

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“Mom, where’s my fish?”

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“I pretend to be brave but now I’m scared and running to hide under Mom.”

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“I’m Stanley, one of the oldest babies skimmers here. I’m almost grown up and just learning to fly. I’m also learning to brake.”

I didn’t make it to see the baby black skimmers until late July. I was expecting to see them all grown up but this was a late year and there were still many tiny babies.  The babies have a lot against them.  Between the tourists getting too close, the crows and laughing gulls trying to get a meal and the risk of high tide, it’s a hard knock life for a little bird. If the tiny babies wander away from the roped off area, a tourist could easily not see him blending into the sand and step on him. If we get another bad storm like Colin back in early June, the tide could get too high and the little babies can’t swim yet or fly away. But, hopefully most make it through.  I took so many pictures of these cute little guys so there are tons more to come.

Linking to Saturday’s Critters

Shorebirds in November.

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I always love watching skimmers take a bath.

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The royal terns are pretty funny as well.

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I think this is a young herring gull.

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Another ruddy turnstone missing most of his toes.

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They were all busy preening early in the morning.

Shorebirds I found hanging around the beach near the fishing pier at Fort Desoto.

On the beach in early April.

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It’s always fun watching a skimmer taking a bath.

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Splashing around like a kid in a bathtub.

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“Clean your underarms” I told him.

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Face in the water.

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All done.

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That’s a little too close.

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Royal terns are showing up on the beach with their summer hat on. During breeding season the top of their head is all black. During winter, they have mostly white on their head with a little gray on the sides.

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Willet shaking it off.

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Marbled godwit digging for snacks.

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I think these are dunlins in non-breeding feathers.

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Oystercatcher taking a nap. It’s amazing how they can sleep on one foot. I couldn’t sleep on one foot much less standing up.

Just a few birds I found out on the beach in early April when I was waiting for the baby owl to decide whether he wanted to fly or not. I know people stand there for hours waiting for “that” shot but I have to get out and walk around.

I can fly!

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He wasn’t quite sure at first but then it was lift off!

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He was flying right at me. This must be one of the first skimmers born this spring. Already flying a few months later.

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This one was ready for a nap.

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This juvenile was still getting fish from his parent.

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“What??”

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This may be one of the first-born. He seemed pretty confident as he flew by me. He’s already got a lot of black in his wings and his beak is changing.

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I didn’t see him get a fish but it was fun to watch him skimming.

I had not planned to go back and visit the skimmers again this spring but I happened to be nearby one morning with hubby and we decided to stop in. I saw a few of the baby skimmers old enough to fly. It was mid-August and the oldest ones were probably born sometime near the end of June. It was right before lunch and the beach was already busy with people walking by and playing so it was a little crazy. I was hoping to see more babies down by the water but the foot traffic kept them closer to the roped off area.  I was able to see one baby skim along the water but he was so close to me that I couldn’t fit him all in. I’d like to say this is my last trip until next year but you never know.

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Another trip to visit the skimmer class of 2013

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“This sign is about me.”

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“This is a comfy hole.”

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“Soon I’ll be flying.”

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“I’m the oldest.”

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A parent skimming for fish.

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I don’t know what they were chasing each other over but this is a common sight over the skimmer colony.

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High up in the air they were yelling at each other.

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A view from the back of the roped off area. As the babies get older, the skimmers start to spread out. Many of the families now hang out between the roped area and the water.

This was late July. I thought this would be my last visit to the skimmers but I ended up back there on a Sunday morning in early August to see if I could catch any of the babies flying. I was able to catch two flying so I’ll post those later.

A few birds at Honeymoon Island

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I got out of my car in the parking lot, walked around to get my camera from the passenger side and saw this staring at me. An eastern towhee. My first one I’ve seen in Florida. I’ve only ever seen them in Atlanta before. This was early June so he must be a late migrater passing through.

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He was watching me get my stuff out of the car. He posed nicely for me and then took off.

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I saw this eastern kingbird out on the trail.

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After walking out to the end of the trail, I headed out to the little beach at the north end of the park. Right as I got out there, a skimmer came by.

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He circled around and came back for another skim. He was all alone.

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He was busy feeding for a few minutes.

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The usual tricolored heron prancing around in the water.

It was a beautiful morning in early June. I hadn’t been to Honeymoon Island in a long time. I was not expecting to see much there. I originally went to check out any baby osprey. I did manage to find a few other things though. The towhee in the parking lot was the highlight. After taking several pictures of him I thought “Anything else I get today is gravy.”

Black skimmers at Fort Desoto

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Skimmers sleeping on an early Saturday morning.

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I caught this one waking up and heading into the water for a bath.

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He was busy dipping.

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And splashing.

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He flapped a few times and flew back over to the group napping.

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Skimmers were flying around.

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A few flew past us.

Skimmer nesting season hasn’t quite started yet. The last several years the babies are usually born in early June. I have been seeing more and more of them hanging out around the Tampa Bay area. These were taken at Fort Desoto earlier this month. We’re hoping for a banner crop of babies this year since we lost so many in thunderstorm Debby last year in late June. The area had a lot of coastal flooding when the babies were still too young to fly. Skimmers nest on populated beaches in the area as well as in Sarasota and most areas of the beach are roped off with signs prohibiting people from entering. Usually, the worries are gulls or crows getting the eggs and babies or someone letting their dog run into the area and scaring the parents away. Last year a storm came up on the beach and flooded it so quickly. I didn’t even think about it until I read it on a Facebook post and was devastated. Hopefully, this year we’ll just have normal rainy days.

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