Bird #328 — Black Skimmer

rynchops (beak and face) niger (black)

Friday, July 20, 1990 — 7:05 am

Tybee Island, Georgia — north end, near Fort Screvens — Atlantic Ocean

I stood on the beach about 40 yards from a large mixed flock of birds.  Many of them were Royal Terns, a lifer for me.  I was looking for other things, but I was in a bit of a panic.  A lady was jogging up the beach behind me.  I figured she would see what I was doing and head the other way.  She kept getting closer, and I was getting mad.  Surely she wouldn’t be so rude as to scare the birds … She jogged past me, not five feet away, and even said “Hi” as she went by.  I was livid.  She jogged right toward the birds, passed them, and disappeared up the beach.  The birds never moved.

Oh.  OK.

I picked up my scope and moved to within 20 feet.  I had just started looking again when a bird passed me on the land side, about 10 yards away.  It was a Black Skimmer.  It flew over the flock and out over the ocean a short way.  It then turned and skimmed the water with its bill below the surface for a few feet right at the water’s edge.  It landed in the middle of the flock and stood there. I was surprised at how large it was compared to the terns.  For some reason, I had in mind a much smaller bird.  As I scanned the flock, I noticed a few more standing with the flock.

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