Great Blue Heron.
For the past five years I have watched and photographed Black Skimmers draw straight lines with their bills on the marsh water at Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, always wondering if they ever catch anything. They must, since they still exist and are actually thriving. Here’s a shot of a bunch of them yesterday.
Following is a closer look from a week ago.
They skim the water anywhere there may be fish, even right next to other birds.
The following series of shots shows one that finally got a fish on camera!
A flock of Black Skimmers, those amazing birds that draw perfectly straight lines with their beaks on the water as they look for fish, was parked on a sand bar at the refuge. They were quite far away from me, and those that were fishing were flying fast.
Here’s a picture of one that I took last year.
Here’s one from 2015 where the straight line is seen clearly.
The Black Skimmer has a most unusual bill among birds, with the lower mandible longer than the upper one. It uses it to skim over water in search of small fish. When the lower mandible senses a prey, the upper one clamps down.
As it hunts for food, Black Skimmers leave amazingly perfect straight lines on the water surface as seen in the following photos. Two days ago, a pair of Black Skimmers put on an aerial show and spent several minutes flying back and forth in front of me. However, they did not seem to catch anything that I could see.
I heard the sound of fish jumping in the water, probably scared by the skimming action, but maybe they were too big for these birds to catch.