Sunday, July 31, 2016

Gone Fishin'

There's a saying - It's called "Fishing", not "Catching" because most of the time you go fishing you don't actually catch anything. Then, there are those rare days when it seems like every time you put your line in, you catch a fish so it really could be called catching. 

That's how it was on Saturday. Harvey and I went out early to see what we could find. Fish were being caught right and left. Fish were being caught so often that it was hard to keep up with who was catching what. It started with this juvenile Black-crowned Nightheron catching an eel in shallow water. 

Junior with an eel
After some time, Mom or Dad got into the action too and caught another eel. That'll show Junior. 

Adult with eel
All told, I watched Junior slurp down 4 eels in a matter of 15 minutes.

Then the Egrets got in on the action. This guy grabbed a fish but got his beak stuck. He struggled with it for quite some time before gulping it down. 

Somehow, he managed to decapitate the fish in the process. Yuck.

Headless fish
And then, the real show began. A pair of Skimmers began making passes over the shallow pool. The light was great, the water was like glass. The birds dropped their bill into the water and whooshed by.

Mirror Image
Their bill automatically snaps shut when they feel something in the water.  I guess their neck bends so that they don't crash if they hit something solid. 

The birds would come up with a fish about 50% of the time but other times, they would be fooled into snapping up other things from the pond such as a feather. 

Skimmer with feather
When a fish was caught, it had no chance. The Skimmer's bill is like a vice. 

You can see how narrow the bill is when you look head on.  

Skimmer with fish
The bird would fly around with the fish until it was in the right position to be swallowed - while the bird was still flying.  You can see the fish being tossed mid-air in this photo. 

Fish toss

After about 30 minutes, the Skimmers were full and flew off. Harvey and I headed to the State Park to see if we could find the Avocet that had been reported over the past few days. We found the bird and what do you think it was doing. You guessed it, fishing. Here he is with his tiny fish prize. 

American Avocet 

Overall, the birds had a great day of fishing in Cape May. I kind of wished that I was fishing too. 


Anonymous said...

Gorgeous birds...great post. HH

Harvey said...

Great Shots...and we did pretty good "fishing" for birds!

Diane Widdop said...

Incredible skimmer shots! I know you love these birds so it must have been a thrill to see that you captured the action!

You should submit the skimming one - how cool that you can see the water being funneled around his (or her?) beak.