Friday, December 26, 2014

Fish Wings Part Two: Black Skimmers

We too, are the Fish Wing tribe.
We are the Halfbeak Nation.
We whirl.
We swirl.
We glide.
We skim.
We catch fish in the most improbable way.

We are the Black Skimmers.

Our fish wings allow us to do aerobatics that could turn the Blue Angels green.

We're not always so organized though.
Our fish wings allow for formal, free form, and working flight.
When we work (fish) our wings hold us steady on long glides, our extra long lower beak dipping, tracing long furrows in the sea surface until a fish is touched, snapped up, ...swallowed... all on the fly.

Sometimes our fish wings combined with a bright morning sun make us look awesome.

Symmetry isn't always a necessary thing.
Natural selection favors those who can exploit the unexploited niche.
OUR fish wing tribe has the "surface gliding, fish snatching" niche all wrapped up and it's that halfbeak that makes it so. 

Julie Zickefoose should paint this.

We are seabirds when we hunt, but shorebirds when we rest and raise our young.
Busy overbuilt shores make resting and nesting a challenge for both our tribe and our cousins the terns.
Vilano Beach, on the North side of the St. Augustine inlet is good for short rests and feeding trips out over the water only.

Cup your hand, imagine a tiny scrape in the sand with a camouflaged egg or two in it.
That's our nest.

You can see how that wouldn't work well here.
It once did.

In Florida, a place that should be heaven for birds like us, we are classified as a "Species of Special Concern".
That's the waiting line for "Threatened Species".

Under every beachfront house, condo, and motel lies the high beach habitat we need for successful nests.
That's gone forever, or at least until a rising sea and a future hurricane reclaims it.

We are the Halfbeak Fish Wing tribe.

We glide fish.
It's a Black Skimmer thing.


Julie Zickefoose said...

Not sure how you do it, FC, but it's magic. That last shot says it all. Thanks for zooming out into the Big Picture, the one with condos stretching into infinity, and skimmers lacing the sky with sharp wings.
And you're right, I should paint that surf foam, those birds.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful storytelling and beautiful photographs. Yes, Julie Z should paint that pic, it's gorgeous.

R.Powers said...

Thanks Robin and Julie!
There's something about black and white birds, the terns, the skimmers, the oystercatchers, the swallow tail kites.
They just jump out at you.

Marilyn Kircus said...

Lovely pictures but they make me sad. I don't think our species will coexist with them.