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.
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.