Black Skimmer Skimming the Gulf

Skimmer skimming the GulfSkimmer skimming the Gulf – Nikon D200, handheld, f5.6, 1/1000, ISO 160, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

North America has one species of skimmer and they are found almost exclusively along coastal waters. Not only do skimmers have a very unique and unmistakable appearance but they also have a unique method of catching prey using their very sensitive, oddly shaped bills that slice through the surface of the water that immediately snap shut when they sense prey. Their top bill (maxilla) is shorter than the lower bill (mandible) and it is the only species in North America that has a bill that is that way.

My own technique for photographing this Black Skimmer skimming the Gulf and other skimmers that day was to sit down in the water right where the waves crested and moved on shore. The skimmers were flying north to south so I could see them coming a long way off and track them with my lens, when they flew in close enough I would start to fire my shutter. The skimmers would fly directly at me and then they would lift up, fly right over me and on the other side they would get closer to the water and continue searching for prey. There were a few times a sneaker wave would come in and hit me from behind but I was able to raise my arm high over my head to keep my camera dry even though I got drenched. I was already wet from my toes to my waist so what was a little more water, right?

I sure miss Black Skimmers. You won’t find them in Utah.

I am working on moving terns and skimmers to my new photo galleries now since I finished moving my shorebird images. I now have less than 800 images to move. I’ll be so glad when this task is completed!

Life is good.


This skimmer was photographed at Fort De Soto County Park in Pinellas County, Florida in August of 2009.


  1. Patty Chadwick April 29, 2016 at 10:18 am

    These are such unique looking birds! I love their colors, but find their food-gathering method the most fascinating! (Saw a wonderful documentary on owls last night on PBS–“OWL POWER” — mostly about two rescued Barn Owls.)..,

  2. Liz Cormack April 29, 2016 at 7:15 am

    Fantastic shot!

  3. Bob mcpherson April 29, 2016 at 6:12 am

    Beautiful image Mia.

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