Saturday, January 25, 2014

Skimming the Surface

Last weekend, we made an over-night trip to St. Augustine. In the morning after breakfast, we walked the beach at Vilano. A very large colony of seabirds was onshore. The morning sun backlit them and shown through their beaks dramatically. At first, I thought they were terns because of the red on their beaks.

There were only a few terns, such as the one below, which I think is a Royal Tern. It "terns" out, most were black skimmers.

In the picture of the yawning bird below, you can see how much longer the lower bill of the skimmer is than the top. This allows them to fly just above the surface of the water and skim for small fish and crustaceans. Interestingly, I read that the bills are of equal length as hatchlings but grow disproportionately as juveniles. 

We were careful to keep our distance and walked up on the wide shore so as not to disturb them. We were down the beach a ways when we heard their wings. A mother thought nothing of letting her two children run at them. You can see that the gulls were less impressed. 

No comments: