Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gregarious Loafers

Pictured is a black skimmer, the only bird to have a lower mandible longer than the upper and cat-like vertical irises. This tropical and subtropical seabird flies low over the surface of the water and catches fish by touch.

The females lay eggs on sandy beaches, 3-7 at a time, and once the eggs hatch, the babies burrow themselves down, as the entire adult colony will leave at night to forage. The colonies have been described thus: "They spend much of their time loafing gregariously on sandbars in rivers, coasts and lagoons they frequent". Some skimmers winter as far afield as the Caribbean, but many chose to stay over in southern California.

The photographs were captured by Chris Mayne at the San Joaquin Nature Reserve in Irvine, 45 miles north of here.

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